Just a Little Reminder for a Big Effect
Back in 2017, I posted a blog on setting up your writing space for better success. I’m still a firm believer in space arrangement and how it affects your work and home, and a springtime newsletter from a feng shui expert prompted me to remind you all as well.
“A writer’s office should be a haven, a sanctuary. A safe place to explore unknown realms of the heart and mind. A nest, a birthing place. An efficient model of production where computers and printers spit out polished manuscripts.” Leslie Budewitz, Author
The following are the top ten from Carol M. Olmstead, FSIA, Feng Shui Master Practitioner, whose feng shui newsletter I have followed since graduate school. Note what’s in the Number 1 spot – how you position yourself while you’re working, creating that next bestselling novel, that personal masterpiece.
This can make or break your writing process, if you ask me.
1. Sit (or stand) in “command” position. That is, face toward the room entrance door, preferably on a diagonal. If you can’t turn your desk around, hang or place a mirror so you can see what’s going on behind you.
Personally, this is always my go-to choice. Never liked sitting with my back to the door or a window. I want a view of who’s coming in and what’s going on outside (even when a nice window view is a not-so-welcome distraction, it beats staring at a wall). Honestly, I do feel more in control when my desk is in this position. Problem is, some people may not have enough room (read: small studio apartment or shared living space) but there are fixes available to help you write and sell that next great novel.
2. Think like Goldilocks and choose the right size desk. A desk that is too small can make you feel like you are not up to the challenge of your work. A desk that’s too big symbolizes feeling overwhelmed by tasks. An unsubstantial desk will limit your opportunities for growth and promotion.
Absolutely! I had a friend who started a home-based consulting business after leaving her corporate job. Her desk was far too tiny and narrow, I reminded her, to get the business off the ground, because it represented a lack of space (for clients/opportunities) in her life. Needless to say, until she moved out of the cramped space and got a larger desk/work area, her business stagnated, which left her in dire financial straits for a time. Now she’s growing her business and is much happier.
3. Sit in the most comfortable chair you can afford. Many companies embrace hybrid working and offer chairs and other equipment that employees can bring home. It doesn’t hurt to ask and take advantage of available options.
Who on earth wants to sit uncomfortably at all? Especially writers! We spend far too many hours bringing our imaginations to life to sit in a chair that creates discomfort. Check out consignment shops first; I found an adjustable and comfy leather swivel office chair for a whopping $4. You’ll never find unless you look.
4. Keep work out of your bedroom. Try to find another space for your home office, like in the dining room if you rarely eat there, or in an infrequently-used used guest room. If there is no other place for you to work, separate out your workspace using a floor screen, standing plants, or a curtain hung from the ceiling as a divider.
This has been difficult, especially through the Covid-19 lockdown and everyone stayed home. Private space became nonexistent or had to be shared with others. Use your imagination (you’re writers, for crissakes) and make your writing space your own.
5. Adjust the art in your workspace. Choose images that make you feel inspired, motivated, and calm. Get rid of anything you no longer like, and avoid art that’s dark, empty, lonely, or depressing, no matter how valuable or how much you paid.
Choose picture, colors and patterns that inspire. It’s that simple.
6. Add a living plant. The ideal location for a natural plant is within 3 feet of your desk to balance any issues from electromagnetic energy. Silk is acceptable if you can’t grow plants, but avoid dried flowers because they symbolize dead, unmoving energy. Also avoid cacti or other plants with sharp spikes.
I love a just-the-right-size-for-my-desk jade plant. They represent prosperity and success (upper left corner of desk) and I love their thick, moist leaves. There’s a sturdy gentleness about this plant that speaks to me. Cacti belong OUTSIDE; their sharp needles will direct negative energy directly at you and will affect how you feel and how you write.
7. Accent your workspace with color. Choose accent colors to match the bagua areas of your workspace to enhance your career path.
8. Add current photos. Display photos of mentors, family, and friends who support you. It’s okay to display photos of deceased relatives who were mentors, but balance these by also displaying current photos of you and/or your family to show continuing growth.
Dead people on my writing desk? No thanks! Talk about an inspiration killer… That’s what hallways and unused corners are for…
9. Lighten up your home office. Locate your desk as close to a window as possible, and choose full-spectrum or warm-glow bulbs that simulate daylight, rather than cold, blue-white bulbs. Avoid overhead fluorescents.
Eye strain, eyeball and temple headaches are a distraction and can be avoided with proper lighting. I love the full-spectrum bulbs; they’re sunlight in a lamp. No seasonal affective disorder with full-spectrum! And they last about six years so they’re extremely cost-effective, too.
10. Tune in to tune out distractions. Play music or use a white noise device or app in your office to drown out any distractions from inside or outside your home. This is a good time to rethink your playlist and choose more soothing sounds to balance any work-related chaos.
This one’s tough for me since I have the attention span of a squirrel. Thankfully I have several jazz apps on both phone and laptop. Soothing and allows me to focus on my work (like this post – I’m listening to KKJZ out of LA right now…).
I like this. For me, having a very clean space is non-negotiable. The more clutter is around me, the more uneasy I feel, and that causes terrible writing flow. But then I’m reminded of Ann Patchett’s spite of the ‘proven ways to write’, where someone told her that writers should face the window for most inspiration, and so she put her table facing a wall, lol. Interesting topic, though!
Trust me when I say this absolutely works. So why don’t more people do it?