The Desk of a Writer

Author Gail Carriger had this cool thing on her blog titled The Desk of a Writer and I absolutely loved to see it.  It’s very interesting to see what other writers do and how others work. Since I’ve had so many questions from you guys about how I manage my time and organize my writing, I thought you’d all be interested to see this.  This is not usually how clean my desk is.  Usually it is cluttered with notes to myself! deskdiag

  1. A little notebook I write my reviews in.
  2. Night’s Knights 2, working title “Dusk’s Warriors”.  Can’t wait to dig more into it!
  3. Latest edit (number 502.5) of Night’s Knights.  Yes… see?  I tear my work up just as much as I do someone else’s.  Also, there must be doodling!
  4. The manga I’m currently reviewing for Eternal Alice Rondo 1.
  5. Inexpensive podcasting mic. complete with homemade pop-filter (a chunk of nylons).  The big expensive things pick way too much up!  They also seem to make my voice sound higher than it is which is something I really can’t afford to have happen.
  6. Mp3 player charging.
  7. Usb hub.  Not only do I have to charge all my little gadgets, I am super hyper about backing up my work.  After losing one of my full novels twice (first time I lost it all just had scribbled notes left and the second I had to retype it all ~ and yes, I had saved it 2 places. Both of those places were compromised.) I am mega anal about my memory sticks.  Tip on when you lose your manuscript and have to retype from printed pages.  The best thing is to use your scanner.  Most of them have the option to transmit it into type.  You may loose underlined passages or have to correct a word here and there but it’s much easier that retyping everything or using Dragon to speak it all back in.
  8. Computer / website Can’t do this with out it.
  9. Sweet Dreams pitch / charrie book.  It lists all the charries and what the pitch is that I changed my voice to sound like them.  It also might have key words for instance: “Rob Malloy / remember business voice / -4.52” I have one of these little books for each podnovel.  I just happen to have Sweet Dreams out right now because I am producing the sequel.
  10. POST-ITS! And flags.  Must haves.
  11. Cell phone.  I have to be plugged in!  My husband constantly makes fun of me about it.  Even though it annoys me when it goes off in the middle of recording.
  12. A tiny purple frog my best friend gave me years ago.  I’m not really a frog person, but I still keep it around.
  13. A mock up of my print book cover (coming in October!).
  14. PENS!!! My favorites are in here including the Japanese Preppy fountain pen (03) and bright orange Sharpie highlighters.  Pet peeve of mine is to be in a house or office or somewhere and not have a pen.  My house as a child had this problem.  I hated it!  Pens are like a necessity.  Bread, water, pen!
  15. Speaking of water.
  16. Special mouse because of my tendonitis.  Kensington is the only company that makes these anymore and they are pricy.  It sucks, but I have to use this kind or be in pain.

 If you’d like to see Gail’s post, go here:
My friend Dani Kollin, co-author of The Unincorporated Man had this response:

I didn’t bother cleaning mine up!

1. Telephone.
2. Headset for telephone so I can pretend like I’m listening to people when I’m actually working on other shit.
3. Goldtouch ergonomic keyboard – adjusts width and height, saves lives (as in I don’t know what I’d do without it. I actually own 2. One for home and one I take to onsite freelance jobs that last for over a week.
4. Wrists rests.
5. U-shaped beanbag wrist rest to match shape and height of track ball
6. Logitech optical trackman. More buttons on this thing than a Saddam military jacket. Totally customizable. Yum.
7. 7 port Powered usb hub. Friggin’ invaluable given all the shit I’m plugging in and out of my system.
8. Scanner.
9. Black and Red Macro uniballs separated. It is the ultimate pen and one that I cannot conceive of being without.
10. The piece de resistance – My imac 24″
11. (under the phone) my accordion post it note dispenser.
12. You can’t see it but it’s my recharging area. Cell phone, bluetooth headset and extension plug for whatever.

21 thoughts on “The Desk of a Writer

  1. Ha! Oh, man… If you saw my desk, you’d say “What the…?!”

    It doesn’t look anything like… well, like anything posted here, anyway. You are all so incredibly organized. I am so impressed. Really. On my desk, almost nothing writerly exists on it, except maybe clutter.

    My desk is nomadic, nebulous, everywhere… wherever I take my notepad. Wherever I drag my laptop.

    My desk is the park at Washington Square in San Francisco… while children play on the swingsets in front of me, and people lounge on the grass in the sun.

    My desk is the latest BART subway car I’m riding.

    My desk is my bed. My desk is my couch.

    My desk is the little Indian restaurant where I have the all-you-can-eat $7.99 lunch buffet.

    My desk is the street I’m standing on.

    My desk is the lawn chair in the backyard, in between breaks where the squirrels take peanuts from my hand.

    My desk is my dining room table in my old apartment in Shanghai.

    My desk is the local coffee shop, the doctor’s office, the room where I’m waiting for my smog check or my tires to be balanced, or the greasy spoon run by a sweet Chinese family that, oddly enough, makes my favorite grilled ham & cheese sandwich in all the Bay area.

    My desk is the driver’s seat of my car (even at 60 mph on Highway 5).

    My desk is a million-and-one restaurants and fast-food joints.

    But usually, almost always, my desk is never really my actual desk…

    As for writing utensils:
    I have a pen in my right pants pocket right now. Two on the table next to my bed. One on my ironing board. A slew in a cup on the refrigerator door. A couple even on the real desk itself. One or two in the change well of my car. One in my coat pocket (always).

    One wherever I need to grab one… always with a backup somewhere nearby in case for some reason the one closest runs dry – because sadly, ideas don’t wait, and they can evaporate quickly. Especially when a new one comes along.

    So there you have it: My writing desk and my writing equipment… Pen and pad. Feet and shoes.

    The computer and all that typing and editing (letter, audio, or otherwise)… that comes later, at various locales. Wherever I can find a plug, and the time 🙂


    • Michael, I’m actually jealous of you now! I remember when my life used to be so much more free. Now when I have a day alone, I’m like… I don’t know what to do with myself. I try to do everything and then get stressed when I don’t accomplish everything!
      Love writing on the Muni or BART though. Good place to do character studies. I also have a few nooks and crannies around the city where I sit but I’m not telling anyone where because I will find myself without a seat!

      Take a tip from Michael and write wherever you are!

      For all you peeps who ask me about writing tips all the time, here is some homework.
      “Charrie or Place Studies” are fun.
      1. Take with you a blank journal or notebook and go somewhere. ANYWHERE.
      2. Write the name of the place at the top of the page “Subway” or “Park” or “California & Kearny” ~btw if you are at this intersection, put your back to the big black alien space vessel in front of the BA building and look up at the white building across the street to see some awesome statues. I actually wrote a post about them here:
      3. Close your eyes and write what you hear, smell (could be bad!), taste?, feel.
      4. Open your eyes and write what you see, who you see, cars, people, whatever.
      5. Jot down types of people. Like: Tall, blonde, suit, Coach bag, talking on cell, mad at mother over dinner?
      6. If you are somewhere with two people talking, write down their conversation. This will make your dialog more believable. The best place to do this is on the train. Why? Usually the people talking are in front or behind you and won’t notice you writing it down. They also have to talk loud because the train is loud. You might want to pick a day like Saturday when friends are going shopping instead of a work day when no one is talking to one another.

      Be careful, don’t spend too much time on one person or staring or write down a conversation of someone too close to you. You could get decked. Also, don’t worry if you catch every word. Write as fast as you can. No complete sentences, no going back to check the grammar. Just write!

      Next time you write a scene about a museum, pull out your notebook. What did you hear? What did you feel? What did it smell like? You might not use exactly the words that you wrote that day in the museum, but it will definitely transport you back to that time and make you feel as if you are still sitting there. This will make your description more real, more believable.

      Next time you are having issues with a scene, or charrie, pull out this journal and skim it. Ideas will practically jump off the page at you.

  2. Lmao… well, yes… if I left mine the way it is after my son plays with it, it would be covered with all the little toys & action figures that sit on a shelf above my head to the right. He is most enamored with the Evil Queen from Snow White, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and Vampire Snoopy. Only he calls them “Keen”, “Mefcent”, and “Noopy” respectively. Hhehe.
    I’d love to see some of your daughter’s art Liz!

  3. Eek!! I have a teenager so mine is usually cluttered with all of her excess junk. Otherwise, since I hate to be interrupted by such needs as food consumption lol, I usually have a tid bits of this and that too eat (and believe it or not they are all healthy – healthy body, healthy mind). Right now I have several of my daughters art pics. there as well, a clip to put my hair back, duct tape (don’t ask me why…just know its a useful handyman tool :P), several CD’s, a candle, and mail. Not to mention two computers (one is mine the other is my daughters). Oh yeah, and pens and pencils and stick notes! What would I do without sticky notes!! O.o

  4. Someone asked about my keyboard being on the desk vs. a keyboard tray. Well- here’s the thing… ergonomically for me, it doesn’t work. I’m short (5 ft) and my arms are extremely short (just call me dinosaur arms!). Not comically so, in fact unless you are measuring them, you will not notice. However, because of these body mechanics, a keyboard tray is either too short or running into my legs (because of the height I have to keep my chair). So, that is why. This is another reason everything is very close to me so I can reach without injuring myself. As to your questions about the mouse, yes, it is medically proven that my type of tendonitis needs this sort of mouse. Believe me, if I could I would use a much cheaper one. This Kensington mouse runs about $80 or more. And I have not been able to find any other model.

      • Lmao… yeah… pretty silly. It’s really weird the things I can’t reach. People don’t think my arms are short and then I try to reach something and they are all… WHOA. They are short! Weird… they don’t look short!
        Things I have trouble with? How about the WASHER? They make them for long armed people! I’m standing on tippy toe, reaching my fingers out like scissors to get that last stupid sock. If change is in the washer– forget about it. It will stay in there.
        I do have a stool though if things get really desperate. LMAO.

  5. 1. My book The Mark of a Druid in paperback. Yes it is usually somewhere on the desk in one or more places. It reminds me that I can do it.
    2. This is a candle tray full of spooky things from Emzbox and They remind me to be scary! Boo!

    3. This is one 3 oil candles that sit on my desk all the time. I use them all the time.

    4. Pencils pens and high lighters. Can’t have to many. I hate being without a writing utensil.

    5. The Phone my first link to the world. Don’t know if you can see it but there is a headset. When it is not on the desk it is on me. I don’t leave the desk without the phone. Crazy I know.

    6. Podioracket Coffee Cup and yes there is coffee in it.

    7. Podioracket Mouse pad.

    8. Couldn’t function without it. My PDA holds my numbers, calendar and vital information. If it is not in the PDA it does’t happen in my world. It is the only way I stay organized and that includes an alarm for the trash to go to the street.

    9. Ah the intercom. You see I live in a huge house and the income saves the screaming across the house for well… anything from Dinner is ready to I am off the air to you have a phone call.

    10. This is the real life character from one of my upcoming books titled Truth Slithers.

    11. My view. I live in a national forest and I could not write without the trees. The whole wall behind my desk is floor to ceiling windows in a bow shape.

    12. The speaker control for the system. I love this speaker system It puts the controls at my finger tips and it is where my headset plugs in.

    13. The O’Brien families crest. I used the symbols from his crest in the Mark of a Druid in the descriptions of Brian Boru. The things I didn’t’t number: paperclip holder, sticky notes, chap stick and my glasses. All three are things I use daily.

    On the right of my main work area these things are in use everyday too. What you don’t see is the electric stapler.

    14. Lazar printer

    15. Digital camera station.

    16. Headset hanging on the swing arm lamp.

    17. This series of books are as follows: Dark blue binder is operations info for the office and posting on all the different blogs and SMN I belong to, The Synonym Finder, Atlas of the Celtic World, Next to that a print out of Celtic Gods and Goddesses, The light blue binder is The Mark of a Druid, a clipboard with blank pages on it; I use it for interviews. I jot down questions and info I want to cover or lists of site that need to be posted to for special events, Dictionary Flip (I so love this book), Then a folder of web work that is in progress.

    18. My purse which is always on my desk and yes I only carry red purses. Don’t ask why I just like them.

    19. My recording mic on its stand and the pop filter is really what you are seeing.

    20. My multi purpose printer/fax/copier/color printer.

    Behind this section of the desk you can see that the view continues. I have more than enough nick-knacks and pictures to keep my eyes busy and I tend to surround myself with things that make me happy and invoke a memory. You will also notice lots of crystals and rocks of all sorts in the window ledges. And you never know when there will be one if 5 cats on this desk.

    Yes my desk is always this clean. The worst time if day for clutter is midday but I don’t go to bed without clearing the desk. It makes me feel accomplished. When I am ready to go to press with the next book When Ethers Descend there will ne a cover mock up on the window above the desk.

    • Wow! I love the pics! Everyone has such an awesome view. I love your stuff and explainations!
      I guess next we should be putting up pics of our nicknacks or idea walls. That is a different subject all together! Heheh. I would love to comment on your post over at openbook, but it wouldn’t let me log in. 😦

  6. Hhehee… I’d love to see it nonetheless! I knew when I saw Gail’s post I would have to do it. So much fun!

    • Lmao well… I would still love to see it. If not, maybe we can see your craft toolbox/bin/handbag.
      Omg… one of my favorite fashion magazine articles was in Marie Claire a few years ago and it was… What do you have in your purse? And one chick had a machete’ (I think she lived in the Rainforest) I was like… now that’s my kinda girl!

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