your writing space

5 Things You Should Have In Your Writing Space (Because I Said So)

I’ve been writing for decades, in cubicles and offices, and in various parts of my home.

For many years, I worked in a makeshift office in the unfinished side of my basement — just steps away from the oil tank and the kitty litter box. And my first real office doubled as a spare bedroom, so I had to take the day off work whenever my mother-in-law came for an overnight in the city.

What I’m saying is… your writing space won’t always be perfection. But it CAN still be a comfortable environment where you enjoy hanging out and doing your thing. 

And yes… I enjoyed my kitty-litter-adjacent space. I painted it sunset orange with a fake window that looked towards a fake forest . And I wrote some spectacular content in there!

When it comes to your writing environment, here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Stake your claim. Your work deserves respect, and you demonstrate that respect by establishing a designated space. Even if it’s a very tiny table in the corner of a very tiny room, it should be yours, and yours alone. If you’ve got roommates or family, train them not to touch this space.
  • Allow only two kinds of things into your space: items that are necessary to your work and items that bring you joy. That’s it. Don’t let a laundry basket sit in the corner. Move the household mail to your kitchen. Find another home for the exercise bike.
  • Expand over time. As you write more (and you will), and as you take ownership of your title as a writer (which will also happen), reward yourself with a bit more space and a few more joyful items. Spread out. Claim more territory. Make you – the writer – increasingly visible.

Location isn’t everything, but it’s something. And you deserve to enjoy where you work.

So without further ado..

Here are the 5 things you should keep in your writing space – just because I said so:

1. A decent chair

A poorly designed chair is an ergonomic hazard in your workplace. Trust me – you want to avoid neck and back issues. So ditch the pretty but uncomfortable chair you bought at HomeSense and don’t even think about sitting on a stool. Buy yourself a chair made for office work. FYI: You don’t need to spend a fortune. IKEA has some pretty good options.

2. At least one lamp

There are three lamps in my writing space – and I use them all. I have a desk lamp that adds extra light to my keyboard area. I have a standing lamp that I use instead of overhead lighting (when I feel like softening the mood a bit). And there’s a clamp-on lamp attached to my coat rack that I turn on when I’m on Zoom calls – because a little more light makes me look younger and less tired.

Lighting sets the mood of a room, and writing is largely dependent on mood. So get yourself at least one lamp, and more if possible.

3. Your favourite books

My all-time favourite book is To Kill A Mockingbird. It sits near my desk, where I can look at the tattered cover whenever I like.

I also have a collection of books by brilliant, witty women, like Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Erma Bombeck, and the queen of humour writing, Dorothy Parker. If you don’t know who Erma Bombeck and Dorothy Parker are, Google them!

And I have a stack of books about creativity, writing, and content marketing, by folks who OWN that space, like Ann Handley, Donald Miller, Austin Kleon, and others.

I surround myself with beautiful words, helpful words, and words that make me smile, because it fills my writing space with positive vibes – and because I believe in creative osmosis!

4. At least one REAL painting

I’m not dissing generic wall art that matches your curtains or covers a wonky dent in your drywall. But there’s something inspirational and magical about a REAL painting.

You don’t have to spend a fortune and it doesn’t need to be the focal point of your writing space. The painting in my office is a small (11×14) watercolour featuring a variety of flowers in a soft blue vase. It’s the work of a family friend and I love it.

To me, a painting is the most visceral form of creativity. It lives and breathes and inspires me to be creative!

5. A coffee/tea mug warmer

Yep. This is number five on my list of MUST HAVE ITEMS. My first mug warmer arrived in my Christmas stocking decades ago. Since then, I’ve replace it a few times, but I’ve never worked in a space without it.

If you’re wondering what I’m talking about… It’s like a miniature version of a hot plate. You can buy one online or at Walmart for about $20.

Trust me. The mug warmer is a game changer.

No more running to the microwave. Or worse yet, drinking cold coffee or tea. Yuck!

When it comes to your writing space, comfort is essential. And warm beverages are comforting.

So those are the basics. If you don’t have them – get them. And in case you’re wondering what else I have in my lovely little office, here are a few more things that bring me joy:

  • A gorgeous, colourful tapestry
  • Photos of my daughters
  • A Happiness Jar that I fill as I enjoy good moments throughout the year
  • A collection of beautiful notebooks – because you cannot have too many notebooks.
  • Scented soy candles
  • Plants (because nature is inspiring)
  • A soft blanket (because I CANNOT be creative and COLD at the same time, and a blanket feels cozier than a sweater)
  • A soft black cardigan (because I don’t want to be on a Zoom call while wrapped in a blanket)
  • A pretty pot filled with every possible colour of fine-point markers (because sometimes I need to see what words look like in neon pink. Or purple. Or marigold yellow)
  • And a copy of my own book, Making Words Work (because I’m proud of it)

????Thanks for reading. Every second Wednesday, I share fresh ideas to help you write with personality and pizzazz, and nurture your creativity. Sign up now and I'll pop the next issue into your inbox!

Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli

Kim Scaravelli is a brand voice coach, writer, and author Making Words Work. She lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with her unruly family, a sweet dog named Stevie, and a sarcastic cat named Winnie.