Does A Writer Need An Office?

marktwain1Mark Twain 

You almost wrote something that would make J.K. Rowling cry.

But you got distracted and lost your train of thought. Drat.

Maybe you need your own office, free of distractions and interruptions? Would that make you more productive?

You know the writing you have inside you is dying to break free and pour onto the page. But how can you expect your muse to wait around while you keep leaving? A third cup of coffee in the kitchen, laundry to finish, and a mailbox to check. You’re getting distracted, and your writing is suffering.

Sure, you might feel good about all the money you’re saving by not renting an office. But if you’re not writing your best work, what good is ‘free’? You want to write ‘bestseller’ material – stuff that will inspire, inform and solve problems. Where is the best place for you to write?

Let’s stop wondering and get some answers once and for all.


What have the great writers done?


Stephen King balanced a child’s desk on his thighs between a washer and dryer in the basement of his trailer. On it was his wife Tabby’s portable typewriter on which he wrote. I didn’t even know that trailers had basements.

Pulitzer Prize winner John Cleever wrote near the furnace in the basement of an apartment building in New York City. He probably sat there, listening to water dripping and pipes banging overhead, and somehow still managed to write.

J.K. Rowling had the idea for Harry Potter on a train, and she wrote about him in cafés and in the one-room apartment she shared with her child.

Apparently, a club of great writers exists whose members started out with writing spots in damp basements and bedrooms. An office is clearly not essential to success.  Among these writers, a common theme emerged:

You must have a space to call your own.


Then there are writers who achieved success and recognized the importance of having their own formal space in which to create.

When novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, friend and future biographer of Charlotte Bronte, visited, “the room looked the perfection of warmth, snugness and comfort”, especially in contrast to the ‘bleak cold colors’ of the Yorkshire moors outside. This writer clearly needed to differentiate her writing space from her surroundings.

Roald Dahl wrote in a little shed— a private sanctuary where he could work without interruption. He went into the shed in the morning, kept the curtains closed, wrote until lunchtime, and did not let anybody in.

Margret Forster (award-winning British author) said, “The minute I walk into this room of my own, I swear I become a different person. The wife, the mother, the granny, the cook, the cleaner — all vanish. For two or three hours only the writer is left.”

And you have to do the work, the writing, even if all you have is a closet.


Traveling to coffee shops, writing at the kitchen table, and moving your laptop to the porch are wonderful breaks in the monotony, if needed.

But without your own definite space, how serious are you about writing? Or are you treating your writing like a pretend career?

One day, when you have some success, you can pull out your golden pen and claim a room with a view, an office/writer’s studio of your own, just like most great writers do.

Until then…


4 Tips for creating an environment conducive to writing


1. Be selfish 

Walk around the space you live in and claim any space that feels right to you, that calls to you, even if you have to move some furniture around. Trust your intuition. You may not have an entire room of your own, but you must work with what you have.

When you find the spot you want to call your own, run a stake through the ground and thump your chest like Tarzan. Place a desk or table there. Own your space. This is where you create.


2. Remove clutter from your space

Clean up. If you already have a space that works for you, take time to go through the stuff on your desk and in your workspace often. Papers and accumulated items create chaos and distraction from your dream, which is to write. A messy workspace may be a subconscious form of self sabotage.


3. Create a ritual at your workspace

Perhaps a candle you light when you sit down, or a perfume bottle you spray, or a song you play. It could be a peppermint tin on your desk and you have one before opening your laptop. (I just ate my 6th cinnamon mint — maybe skip the tin.)


4. Make your writing space about YOU

Hang a quote, a picture, or place a trinket —something essentially yours, that reminds you of your goal and motivates you to write. Preferably not pictures of other people, even if it’s your family.


What are you waiting for?


Are you off to read another blog post? Some more tips on writing? Check your bank balance again?

Don’t. Now’s the time to make the best of your space. Pick up a broom and start sweeping. Box up your junk and hang a writing calendar. Change the light bulb.

Don’t get caught up wondering about a right or wrong place to write, or whether to have an office or not. What is essential is that you have your own writing space and that you write.

Make each word count, and give every word you write the environment it deserves — the office of your dreams. Because word by word, you create your life.

Where do you write your best work? I look forward to knowing in the comments below.

(this originally appeared on Write To Done as a Guest Post I wrote)


5 Ways To Honest Writing (and selling people out)


No one wants to be a rat.

You know, the one that tells the family secrets, betrays the trust of friends or business partners.

But someone’s gotta do it.

As  Joan Didion says,

“Writer’s are always selling someone out”.

You may want to write a book, a blog, and wonder about writing the truth the way you see it. Or the way you experienced something. And then you realize you may be saying too much, or that someone may not like what story you told.

What do you do?

I wrestled with this for a while because I wanted to write stories based on my childhood growing up as one of eleven children.

That’s a story loaded with stuff about other people. Do you sugar coat? Change story lines, names and situations?

When I read this quote by Anne Lamott I had my answer very clearly.

“Own everything. If people wanted you

to write warmly

about them they should have behaved better”.

Pick your choice. Blog for real or your writing may be milk-toast-inspired.

Do you get into messes because of something you said?

If so, good. That means you have a shortcut to being honest in your writing. If not, then perhaps you can find your truth when you write. Because that is all people really want to read.

I love this writing space in this photo,  yet have a sneaking suspicion that it would be hard for me to be honest and raw surrounded by pink. 



My half broken laptop with the super annoying Windows 8, the draft at my window and the roll top desk  I bang my elbow into as I write is where I am at. Right behind me are sharp Lego pieces I step on with my bare feet getting to my desk at 4:30 AM.

Now that’s a space that brings out the truth in me, and only the truth, so help me God.

Here are 5 Ways To Honest Writing.

1) “Tell the truth but tell it slant.

…The truth must dazzle gradually,

or every man be blind”.  Emily Dickinson

Change things that don’t take away from the emotion of the writing or the events that you want to portray as having occurred in a specific way.  This can be tricky yet possible. The truth with a slant.

2) Write your first draft when you are tired, uncomfortable, hungry, angry, lonely.

This will help you use your emotional and physical state to bypass good feelings and get to the raw.

3) Ditch the keyboard.


Take out a paper and pen and ask yourself what you really, really want to write if no one else would read it . Ever. Write THAT down on your paper.

Ask yourself what messages or emotions you want your readers to get after reading  your writing. Write THAT down on your paper.

This may bring you closer to your truth than the keyboard initially.

4) Become a Healer

Writing provides relief for yourself and others. When it feels scary to be honest in your writing, remind yourself of the healing you can only provide others if you’re real. And take courage from the knowledge that this is how you as a writer have ultimate healing yourself.

You deserve to heal.

5) Be sinful

There is a feeling of sinful pleasure when you write the truth because you know someone won’t like it. AT ALL.

And isn’t it fun to sin once in a while?

From my edgy, drafty space to yours, know that you could do it. Actually, only you could write the truth as its known to you so if you don’t the world will never have that spot inside themselves healed in a way only you could provide.

Write your truth and you’re a hero.

Go be a hero. It’s not for the faint of heart but if you read this far, it’s probably for you.



The Real Reason Why You Can’t Write

writers block woman 

You’re dying to be a successful writer.

In fact, you spend most of your time thinking about writing and imagining where it might take you. You think about what to write, where to write, and which tools to use. You even block out time in your calendar to write.

And at the end of every day, you still haven’t written a single word.

Why can’t you make this work? Why can’t you just sit down and write? You want to, you have a unique voice, and you have ideas you want to write about. Keeping it all inside of you nearly hurts.

You know a lot about writing already – tons, in fact. You know where to find writing tools, ways to overcome writer’s block, information on finding writing work, and which websites offer writing classes on how to become a better writer.

It’s all at your fingertips.

So what’s missing? Why can’t you seem to write as freely, as much, and as easily as all the other writers?

There’s a secret about writing that no one told you.

This secret will get you in the chair, in front of your screen, writing away. Coaches,mentors and therapists use this secret all the time, helping their clients start anything they desire.

Actually, you already own this secret. It’s hidden inside you.

It’s your very own belief system.

Your beliefs about you and your writing are holding you back.

Many motivational leaders in spiritual, financial and self-help fields say that in order to achieve your goals, be they financial, spiritual or relationship related, you need to become aware of your beliefs – and then transcend the old belief system you’ve adopted.

Have you ever stopped to think about what you believe about yourself as a writer? Have you ever considered what you believe about the work you produce?

Your beliefs run the show, usually subconsciously. And if they’re limiting or negative beliefs, they’ll stop that show dead in its tracks.

You believe certain theories about why you suffer from wanting desperately to write but are unable to. Each writer has their own belief system. Maybe you believe you aren’t a good writer, or that your work isn’t “epic” enough, or that you’re too slow. Whatever.

Once you take time to figure out your beliefs about you as a writer, and about writing itself, you can begin to see where you hold yourself back from actually writing in the first place.

Can it be this simple?

Yes. Simple… but not easy.

Lucky for you, a step-by-step system exists to replace negative beliefs with better ones, and once you try it, you’ll eliminate your delaying tactics and procrastination for good.

You’ll be one of those writers you see in Starbucks, eyes glued to the page, typing away furiously while sipping steaming-hot coffee.

Step 1: Identify your limiting beliefs

Find a calm space where you can sit quietly. Take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself the following questions, listening to your intuition for the answers:

What are some of the beliefs that prevent you from writing?

For some writers, the answers jump out. For others, they need to make several attempts or spend time thinking about the answer. A few general limiting beliefs might include some or any of the following:

  • I don’t have time to…
  • I’m not smart enough to…
  • I’m too busy to…
  • I could never be successful at…
  • I’m afraid if I’m successful then…
  • I don’t have enough money to…
  • My mother/father/spouse/partner/friend says that I should…

These are just some examples to help you uncover your personal limiting beliefs. Yours may be related to your writing, or to success, or to failure, or to something else entirely.

Write down your list of limiting beliefs – the negative thoughts and emotions that come to you when you think of writing, or yourself as a writer.

If it’s difficult to come up with the honest answers about what’s holding you back, you can work with a mentor or coach to do some soul-searching and self-discovery. It’s well worth the effort so you can begin getting words on the page.

Step 2: Flip your limiting beliefs

Now that you have a list of limiting beliefs, write the opposite of each belief on a new sheet of paper. Turn your negative beliefs and thoughts into positive ones.

For example:

Old Belief: My parents said I can’t make money as a writer and that I should get a real job.

New Belief: Writing is a real career that can earn money, and many people have been successful. I can be successful in this career too.

Old Belief: I have to wait for my life to be perfect and balanced. Then I’ll be able to write.

New Belief: I can write any time I choose, and I don’t have to wait for any silly criteria – I can begin writing today, and I will.

Step 3: Pick 3 new beliefs

From the new beliefs you created, pick 3. Post them somewhere you’ll see them every day, often. (Post ONLY the new beliefs – the old ones are gone!)

Spend 2 to 3 minutes a day reading your new positive beliefs, and infuse this visualization with positive energy. By reading your new beliefs frequently, and believing in them, you’ll gradually come to create change around your writing.

Slowly these new beliefs will become your reality and truth.

Step 4: Grow into your new beliefs

This may not be an instant transformation; rather, you’ll grow into it. Help that growth occur by creating a specific action plan that helps you live your new beliefs.

Perhaps you need to get assistance with some of your tasks so you’ll have time to write. Maybe you’ll have to read daily material around a specific feeling or belief you’ve newly adopted. You might need to get help from a coach, or someone who’ll assist you in changing old writing habits.

Stay around positive people who are self-growth oriented. Their encouragement will help wear down those negative beliefs until they’re completely gone.

How New Beliefs Can Transform Your Writing Life

By bringing your limiting beliefs to the surface and reversing them into positive ones, you can transform your writing, and your life as a writer.

One of my main beliefs that caused me to delay writing was that everything else has to be done first. With children and coaching clients, this meant I left writing to the last item of the day, and I barely wrote because of it.

My limiting belief was completely blocking me from writing.

My new belief became: I can write first thing every day before everything else. I didn’t know how this could ever happen, but I started waking up a little earlier, or sometimes just wrote for 10 minutes, first thing in the morning.

Slowly I figured out how to rearrange my schedule so that writing is my first activity of the morning on most days.

Granted, writing may still be challenging for you at times. Finding the right words sometimes feels like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Writer’s block might still show up. But more often than not, you’ll be writing.

And when you aren’t, you’ll know how to get back to it quickly.

Which limiting beliefs will you change?  What’s holding you back from writing? And where do you want your new writing beliefs to take you?

(this post appeared on Men With Pens as a Guest Post I wrote)