Monday, January 18, 2010

Creating a Writing Space – Considerations & Alternatives

My husband and I both needed an office at home, so we came up with the brilliant idea to share a room. My portion of the office was going to be my writing space while his would be an old fashioned office. We divided the room up to accommodate our stuff and purchased a partner desk, which means we would be facing each other when we were both working. Things haven't worked out exactly as I envisioned. In our enthusiasm to create a nice office, I lost sight of the real goal – a small place to go to, slip into my imagination and create stories.

Things I failed to consider:
  • Work styles: We have opposite work habits that clash.
  • Size: The size of the office is not conducive to sharing, especially when all of our stuff is added to the room.
  • Furniture: A partner desk doesn't work for me. I can't stare at my husband across the desk and remain in my imagination. When I see him, I am jolted back to reality because he is so grounded. His world is all about business, computers, etc. My world, like most writers, is story oriented and in my head. My writing space was supposed to be my little corner where reality isn't a priority.
  • Choice of room: We chose the room in the front of the house. This room has a window that stretches down to the floor where my boys (the pups) can see cars and people passing by. When they see something, they bark. Obviously, my story world is destroyed by the loud crash into reality.
  • Chairs and space: My boys' special place is at the window, which is located a foot from the back of my chair that has wheels. You see the problem.
  • Climate: The front room is usually hotter than the back room.
We should have used both rooms as offices – one for him and one for me. The view of the backyard is filled with trees and other forms of nature. The view is so much more relaxing. My boys wouldn't bark so much because they can't see people or cars. The room is much cooler, and the lavender colored walls are more conducive to creativity.

The other issue I did not anticipate has nothing to do with the office. It is too much of a business environment. When I'm there, I constantly think of phone calls that need to be made, paperwork that needs to be done, etc. Additionally, whenever I sit in the office chair, my boys start to cry for attention. Needless to say, my creativity does not manifest itself here.

My solution is to write in the dining area, which we are converting to a sun room. It is in the back of the house, gets lots of light and the boys can sit right next to me, which makes them very happy.
Meet the boys:

Angus is on the left and Murray is on the right.

Atlanta Bread Company is my favorite place to write though. They have a couple of nice sitting areas with easy access to outlets. At least once a week, I meet some of my writer friends to write. Yes, we chat a little, but the focus is on writing. We affectionately refer to this time together as Write Night since we typically meet in the evening. Check out our favorite area:

The only thing missing are my little buddies, the boys, who aren't allowed in the restaurant :(

If you have a writing space, what would you have done differently? Do you have alternative writing places in or outside the home?


Pamela Mason said...

Good Morning! My writing space is supposed to be in the basement. It's a lovely spot facing the backyard, with my writing books & references all neatly stacked next to the monitor, an extra rolling table to accommodate a laptop, since the desktop no longer connects to the internet, & a file cabinet. It's quiet, efficient...& nothing gets done there at all.
My best writing is done at the kitchen table, pre-dawn, with the coffee pot at hand. While my boys (the two-legged kind)are still asleep, not hungry yet, the plumbing pipes and the songbirds aren't competing with each other, and all I hear are the voices in my head & the coffee gurgling.
Wish I could find that type of space outside the house, since the laundry/coupons/crockpot/dustbunnies are always calling my name--before the phone rings--but haven't found it yet. Lucky you to have such a spot, & you'll just have to save your partner desk spot for signing all those contracts Tammy!

Tammy Schubert said...

Pam, your description of your kitchen writing space in the pre-dawn hours sounds like heaven. There is nothing like the those hours right before the world awakens.

You are right about the partner desk. One day I'll be signing contracts and handling all the business aspects of my writing career once I'm published. Now to finish the book...

Marilyn Baron said...

The boys are so cute! I love them. Your sunroom idea sounds great. My writing space (as you'll read about tomorrow) is in the back of my house and I love where it's situated because I love looking out the window at the trees, deer, etc.

My husband's home office is also in my office but he has a regular office at work so he only uses his desk at home occasionally. When he really wants to work at home, he usurps my computer, which can be disruptive.

I miss my dog, a Bichon, who died a couple of years ago. I wish she were still around to bark. She was my companion and she liked to sleep in my office in a patch of sunlight.

Actually the Atlanta Bread Company space looks good. I never tried writing there.

I enjoyed hearing about your writing life!

Marilyn Baron

Cyrano said...

I would like very much to meet your boys. I'm a cat person, never owned a dog, so I don't know what its like to live among the canine species. But your boys almost compete in cuteness with my two little monkeys (not really monkeys, they're cats, but calling them monkeys is like you calling yours "boys". It makes me happy.)
I love the idea of going to a coffee shop and writing with friends. My critique partners haven't yet jumped on that wagon. They think they might be distracted too easily. Maybe, but I would love to sit among the ladies I adore most and absorb their creative auras while banging away at the keys and sipping a machiato.
Great post!
Have a productive morning,

Maxine Davis said...


Love the idea of a sunroom. I want one so badly.

The boys are gorgeous! Tillie has her head in my lap as I type.

My husband wouldn't be able to stand me typing in front of him. I think he would not understand the laugh out loud or the occasional tear.

You just do whatever lets you get the words on the screen - that's the important thing!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Tammy, we almost did a partner's desk, too! I am so glad we didn't. While we both usually keep messy desks, my husband would inevitably use my nearness to ask questions about data entries for our finances, etc. It would just be too much temptation for him.

Anonymous said...

Writing space has become an issue here, too! I had an office when we first moved in, but two things happened--we moved a queen sized bed in there before lots of houseguests and it is now a guest room and also, my reg. computer crashed and I finally joined the laptop age. Because my erstwhile office is over the garage, it's the hottest room in the house all summer and I stopped writing there altogether. Now my husband is making noises that he'd like to use it as a home office since I don't--except it's still got all my books stored there, tax stuff, workshop materials, etc etc. We're trying to work out a solution that doesn't make me feel like a selfish hoarder but also doesn't make me feel like my office got downsized to one corner of the couch :-) BTW, your "boys" are ADORABLE.

Susan May said...

Tammy, I love the sun room. Also get alot of work done when I get away from the house. I depend on the day I subsitute teach because I get to use the planning periods to write.

Tami Brothers said...

This is great!!! I LOVE the boys, Tammy. They are sooooo cute.

I can see you writing in all these spaces. I am envious of your Write Night. If I didn't live so far away, I'd beg to join.

Thank you for sharing your world with us and for being so honest with what doesn't work for the space. I know I didn't think of a lot of these things when I dreamed of my own space. I think I made a lot of the same mistakes and would have made the others.

Happy writing!!!


Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Tammy,

Okay, I'm a cat person, but I'll join everyone else in saying that your "boys" are soooo cute.

You guys have seen my space already, but I didn't paint the walls before I moved in, so they're cream colored and I'd love a mist of pink or mauve on them. I'm hinting to hubby that I have a birthday coming up in a few months, so we'll see if he takes the hint. (g)

Love the peek at your office...oh, BTW, I love hubby, but a joint desk would never work for us. He would keep saying..."Hey, honey, listen to this..." and then he'd read some article to me. No, shared an office before and it doesn't work for me.


Anna Steffl said...

Like Tamara, I'm a cat person, well technically I'm approaching crazy cat lady status, but I think your little guys are super cute.

I write at a coffee shop about six blocks from my house. I should walk there more than I do. Sigh.

Ana Aragón said...


Cute boys! I agree that it's not good to share with's great when he's not here, and sometimes I just have to feign hearing loss...!

I do love our little writing space at ABC, though. That's when I am at my most prolific!


Linsey Lanier said...

Tammy, I love your sunroom. And your boys are soooo adorable. I just want to squeeze both of them. :)

I like a writing space on an upper story (which mine is), and like so many others, I like windows. But IMO, it's the time you spend in your space that make the memories and the atmosphere, so you do need someplace where you won't get distracted...or you won't build that.

Wish I could join you for your Write Night.


Tammy Schubert said...


The view from your office is wonderful. Nature is a great way to spark creativity.

I'm so sorry about Bichon. Losing a pet is so hard.

Give ABC a try. You might find that it works for you. All the noise is in the background and you can get lost in your imagination.

Happy writing!

Tammy Schubert said...


Living with the canine species is wonderful. It's a little different than living with your monkey's though. You would enjoy the difference.

Get your partners to give writing in a cafe a try. My group literally feeds off the creative auras of the others. It makes such a solitary activity a little more social, too. The plus side is there are a lot of conversations to listen to and strangers to see. You never know what little bit of dialogue or description of a person you might want to add to your manuscript.

Tammy Schubert said...


The sunroom is the way to go. This is the only part of my house that actually gets a decent amount of light. The room is bright and cheery during the day. Plus, the dogs can sit in their own chair and look out the window. They don't have to fight for space in my lap.

I hope you are getting lots of pages written.

Tammy Schubert said...


Thanks for joining us today.

You are in a tough spot with the office issue. Sharing an office isn't the ideal solution, but you could make it work. My biggest recommendation is not to get a partner desk and face each other. That can be very disruptive. Maybe if you shared the room with him, he would insist on air conditioning in the summer. :) Good luck on creating your new space.

Tammy Schubert said...


There is something about being away from the house that makes me focus on writing. I don't know what the difference is, but it works. Using your planning periods when you sub is a great idea.

On days you don't sub, try out a local coffee shop or a similar location. It might work for you, too.

Tammy Schubert said...


If you ever move closer, you are welcome to join our write nights. We would love to have you and anyone else who is interested in showing up.

You can always find writers in your local area to hook up with and start your own write night. I guess it would be hard with everything you've got going on right now. Maybe you can give it a try in the future.

I hope you have found some time to write!

Tammy Schubert said...


Maybe one day soon you'll go off with a friend for a day and come home to find your walls the perfect color.

Cats are wonderful companions. My vet has one that lays across the top of the computer monitor on the front desk. Having him there always seems so relaxing and comforting. Unfortunately, my house is a no cat zone. Maybe one day...

A very early happy birthday to you!

Tammy Schubert said...


You seem pretty normal to me, Anna. How many cats do you have to have in order to qualify for the crazy lady status?

Don't beat yourself up for not walking to the coffee shop all the time. Thinking about doing it every day for a week sounds kind of intimidating. Maybe you could shoot for one day a week.

Tammy Schubert said...


It's been a while since we were able to write together. All of us miss you. Please come back soon.

Feign hearing loss. Love it! This is definitely one thing I am going to try, especially when hubby starts playing those X-box games.

Tammy Schubert said...


Maybe one of these days we can meet some place to write during a Saturday. You would really enjoy it, especially when there are a few of us around. There's nothing like hearing the tapping on keyboards to keep you going.

Tammy Schubert said...


Thank you for stopping by. I'm sorry I was a bit late today and missed interacting with you more.

I've given the boys hugs from all of you.

Happy writing!

Anonymous said...

LOL, Tammy, you're right! Maybe I should invite the hubby to share the space so he can understand how hot it gets in there and remedies the situation :-)

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Sorry I'm late. I don't have much to add on the home office situation, but I enjoyed reading about yours. I'm a big fan of the ABC, too, but they closed mine. When I taught, it was one of my favorite places to hang out and grade papers. I did learn from them that classical music is often conducive to concentration.

Your boys are cute. I would dearly love to have pets, but I can't seem to properly train all of the humans (including myself) so I think I'd better wait a little while longer.

Michelle said...

Your dogs are so cute! My FIL has two Westies and they chase and bite the vacuum cleaner. Hysterical. I tried sharing an office with my husband years ago - before I got my studio - I'm a clicker and tapper and he's - NOT. It was ugly.

Dianna Love said...

Ah - you hit the same learning curve I did a long time back, because my hubby and I share an office. When we built this house I planned the office to where he has his half and I have mine. The biggest problem we hit is talking on the phone at the same time.

Your dogs are so adorable!! That would be distraction enough for me, just looking at them.

Peg said...

LOVE your boys! Mine likes to "help" me write, too. He thinks I'd enjoy tossing his ball or taking him for a walk much more--well, I do get ideas on our walks! My "boy" is also a Westie--named Reg!! They are the best.