Designing a writing space as per 'On Writing'

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Bill Ricardi

Member
Oct 8, 2017
14
68
45
Belfast
billricardi.com
Hey folks,

As I'm migrating to a new writing space over the holidays, I thought I would share some of the design philosophies that 'On Writing' teaches us, and talk about how they apply to the modern world.

When picking or designing a new writing area, your main focus should be on isolation. A door that you can close is fine, but if you're doing all of your writing alone (keeping the same office hours as your mate, for example), other kinds of isolation need to be considered as well.

Keeping yourself as far away from modern media is probably the most important factor. It is a distraction that you don't need. With that in mind, my new writing space is 5 meters and a partition away from any phone, television, game system, E-Reader, or tablet. There will be no alerts, no twitting, no notifications, no books of faces, and no temptations nearby.

As Stephen mentions, your desk should be in a corner. This is for convenience and, again, to prevent distractions. The top of the desk should have your writing tool(s), scribble paper and a couple of pencils for anything you want to diagram on the fly, a simple clock if you aren't using a computer, and a towel for drying your face and hands if you live in a hot climate. If you need music to help shut out the world, a stereo or portable player attached to headphones that cover the ears are preferred, noise cancelling headphones being ideal. I've gone for a set of affordable Plantronics gaming headphones.

Assuming you're using a computer, it should be directly hard wired to your Internet router or firewall if at all possible. My new writing space is actually our networking area as well, so that works. You don't want flaky wireless signals to interfere with your use of an online word processor, be that Google Docs or an online version of Office or what have you. I do encourage the use of cloud based writing tools, and backing up the results on your local hard drive or memory stick regularly. Google Docs in particular saves your work every few seconds, has full revision history that you can roll back to as required, and contains all of the spelling, grammar, and research tools you need.

Your chair should be comfortable, but not opulent. Lower back support and a comfortable place to rest your ass are the paramount concerns. In my opinion, the less stuff you need to fiddle with, the better. Height adjustable is fine, but don't play with it all day.

Shades should be drawn. No outside distractions literally means, no outside distractions. If you have a window in your room, it is not for gazing, at least not during business hours. I've gone the extra mile and hung a blanket in front of the window in my writing area. One of those thick throws. Bask in the glory of artificial LED lighting.

If this setup seems somewhat Spartan, that's because it is. Intentionally so. Moderate comfort is what you're going for, not pampering. And sure, I may share my space with soulless routers and an ominous looking firewall, but the goal has been achieved: Isolation. A perfect writing environment.

I hope this helps the next 'On Writing' student to set up their own workspace. I expect at least a moderate productivity boost from my new digs. I'll publish the statistics from book 3 of the trilogy in late March or early April, and we can compare the work rate achieved between the old and new environments.
 

Quinton

Active Member
Jan 8, 2020
27
157
59
Upstate New York
Hey folks,

As I'm migrating to a new writing space over the holidays, I thought I would share some of the design philosophies that 'On Writing' teaches us, and talk about how they apply to the modern world.

When picking or designing a new writing area, your main focus should be on isolation. A door that you can close is fine, but if you're doing all of your writing alone (keeping the same office hours as your mate, for example), other kinds of isolation need to be considered as well.

Keeping yourself as far away from modern media is probably the most important factor. It is a distraction that you don't need. With that in mind, my new writing space is 5 meters and a partition away from any phone, television, game system, E-Reader, or tablet. There will be no alerts, no twitting, no notifications, no books of faces, and no temptations nearby.

As Stephen mentions, your desk should be in a corner. This is for convenience and, again, to prevent distractions. The top of the desk should have your writing tool(s), scribble paper and a couple of pencils for anything you want to diagram on the fly, a simple clock if you aren't using a computer, and a towel for drying your face and hands if you live in a hot climate. If you need music to help shut out the world, a stereo or portable player attached to headphones that cover the ears are preferred, noise cancelling headphones being ideal. I've gone for a set of affordable Plantronics gaming headphones.

Assuming you're using a computer, it should be directly hard wired to your Internet router or firewall if at all possible. My new writing space is actually our networking area as well, so that works. You don't want flaky wireless signals to interfere with your use of an online word processor, be that Google Docs or an online version of Office or what have you. I do encourage the use of cloud based writing tools, and backing up the results on your local hard drive or memory stick regularly. Google Docs in particular saves your work every few seconds, has full revision history that you can roll back to as required, and contains all of the spelling, grammar, and research tools you need.

Your chair should be comfortable, but not opulent. Lower back support and a comfortable place to rest your ass are the paramount concerns. In my opinion, the less stuff you need to fiddle with, the better. Height adjustable is fine, but don't play with it all day.

Shades should be drawn. No outside distractions literally means, no outside distractions. If you have a window in your room, it is not for gazing, at least not during business hours. I've gone the extra mile and hung a blanket in front of the window in my writing area. One of those thick throws. Bask in the glory of artificial LED lighting.

If this setup seems somewhat Spartan, that's because it is. Intentionally so. Moderate comfort is what you're going for, not pampering. And sure, I may share my space with soulless routers and an ominous looking firewall, but the goal has been achieved: Isolation. A perfect writing environment.

I hope this helps the next 'On Writing' student to set up their own workspace. I expect at least a moderate productivity boost from my new digs. I'll publish the statistics from book 3 of the trilogy in late March or early April, and we can compare the work rate achieved between the old and new environments.
Thanks Bill ! and for taking the time ! hope you are still with SKMB and was wondering if you are an accomplished writer ?