RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.
A Writers Dream-The Home Office
By Linda S. Dupie
Lately, I find myself sitting at my computer daydreaming about the office I wish I had. You know the one with the giant oak desk, big comfortable chair, and bookshelves that never end. All my files are neatly arranged, stowed away in their proper place and don’t forget the home office necessity, sound proof walls.
That’s right, if you haven’t guessed my office is tucked away in the corner of my basement, which also happens to be where my children love to play. Never mind that they have their own bedroom and a special TV room set up just for them. They feel the need to be near me. Sometimes I think they do it as pay back for my mother, and all the times I wouldn’t let her work. Actually, my make shift office could be worse. My corner is about 10 feet by 10 feet and packed to overflowing. That’s okay for me because I know where everything is, however no one outside of the writing world would be able to make heads or tails of my set up. I have all of the writer’s necessities, laptop to save space, two filing cabinets, three bookcases, and a desk. When my parents remodeled their kitchen, I asked if I could have some of the cabinets. I now have space to put all the printer paper and other miscellaneous items.
I know what you are thinking, ‘Boy, that sure is cramped.’ Don’t I know it; I have to work in it.
During a conversation with a few writer friends, I found I was not alone in the dream of the perfect office. Many just wanted a space to call their own and others wanted the moon. As for me, I only want the sound proof walls.
Katie, a freelance writer residing in Sweden has this dream, “My dream office has two large windows. One of them looks out over the ocean, and the other out into the mountains…It contains a large desk with lots of drawers and cubby holes to put pens, pencils, and notebooks in (and candy bars of course), and on top will be a state of the art computer with free Internet access, and a good lamp for when my muse strikes in the middle of the night.”
Some writer’s dream in extreme detail, after all, we’re writers and detail is a part of our job.
Shelley of Wisconsin says, “My dream office would be in a room large enough to house a desk, several book shelves, and a couch and chair. Sunshine would stream in through the French doors, which open up onto a private patio and an English garden.” Shelley doesn’t stop there though. “The furniture would be an eclectic mix of floral patterns and carved woods. The overall atmosphere would be one of comfort and romance.”
While most of us don’t have the office of our dreams, we can make the best of the space and furniture we do have with a little planning. In my 10×10 space, I use a U-shape design for furniture placement. I place my desk close to a window, if possible, and then place my filing cabinets on one side and bookcases on the other. I also have any other tables or desks within reach for whatever I need, so I don’t have to walk to the other side of the room. Use the bottom of the U as workspace; place the computer, fax, and telephone, and any current projects here. The sides of the U have all other filing cabinets and bookcases with the least used items farthest away from the bottom of the U. With the U configuration, I can roll my chair to anything I need; though I prefer to stand and get the items I need. This way I feel I have accomplished some kind of exercise
during my day.
I use a laptop for all my writing. What about the Internet you ask? Well, I don’t currently have access on my laptop, but I do have a desktop on the left far side of the U configuration.
We write where we do because it’s all we have. Most writers have a few ideas of the perfect office in common; we want large windows for light and space for everything that makes us productive. Will the dream office make us more productive? For some the answer might be yes, but for me the answer is no, as long as I have the tools I need to perform my craft. If I actually had my dream office, my family would never see or hear from me again; after all, I have soundproof walls.
Seven Space Saving Tips
- Use a lateral filing cabinet as opposed to a standard vertical cabinet. Lateral cabinets hold more files.
- Store older files and research away from your office space. Box, label, and store the files in another room or closet.
- Only keep current projects on your desk. Use stackable file trays for easy access and to save space.
- Use a dry erase board to track assignments, i.e. what’s due and what’s finished. Customize it to fit your needs.
- If possible store only the supplies needed in your office space. Store extra supplies in an accessible closet or under your bed.
- Use a telephone/answering machine combination. Better, if your telephone company provides a voice mail service invest in it and do away with the machine all together.
- Set aside one morning or afternoon each month to make a clean sweep through your office. File finished projects or remove them totally if you won’t need it in the near future.