Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest Blogger

Today my guest is Christine Collier. She's been a fantastic writing buddy for many years. We've been through the wringer together and have propped each other up more than once!

When another writer specifically asked for this subject I immediately thought of Christine. I'm sure you'll find her article on a writer's writing space as useful as I did. And don't forget to check out her bio to find out where to get her books. That's her writing space in the picture. Nice, huh?

Where Do You Write?

A few years ago, we remodeled our smallest bedroom into a real office. Our children had flown the coop and we had empty nest syndrome. I dreamed of my own writing office but also realized I’d have to share with my hubby. Our room is small but it has worked out well.

Wall cabinets with under cabinet lighting, a ten foot beige countertop, and base cabinets with files were how we started. Room at this counter for two chairs and two computers would add to the room’s utility. I got the chair and computer by the window!

What was the ideal color for the walls and ceiling? We decided on cinnamon toast for the walls and eggshell for the ceiling and cabinets. A nice color choice, before breakfast, on my morning computer email searches.

Would my new office increase the volume of my writing? How about the quality? Does a quiet atmosphere help writers with ideas? Can you get just as many ideas at a crowded kitchen table?

I’ve come to the conclusion that where you write does matter. You might find a great story at the family table. If, however, you have a place to go to think, research and read, the odds are your story will move much more smoothly.

Having organized files are essential. If everything is at your fingertips you will use it! File your guidelines, cover letters and market guides within easy reach. For instance, I wrote an excellent description of a middle grade mystery for my cover letter. The story was rejected, time to resubmit. If I hadn’t filed my cover letters by date, I might not have bothered to search for it. This way I found it immediately and was able to use the description again. Sometimes we forget how we worded something the first time.

A neat, clutter free counter is priceless. When you have room to spread out research books and study guides it helps greatly. Get a good dictionary and thesaurus or a combination one. Make sure you have good lighting in your writing space. Avoid harsh or fluorescent lighting. You need to be able to see your computer screen and books with ease. Under cabinet lighting is very easy on the eyes and will increase the time you write.

A comfortable office chair on wheels that can be adjusted to either a desk level or counter level is another plus.

What is your view? The view from our office is our backyard which runs into the woods. A tom turkey visiting one day inspired, “Over the River and Through the Woods,” about a boy that secretly buys a turkey call so he can call out a turkey for his grandfather. His grandfather has a photo album of all the forest creatures and he needs one of a turkey. This story was published in the summer 2008 issue of JAKES, a four page feature with wonderful illustrations. Another writing inspiration from our office window was a three legged deer which visited often. This resulted in a second feature story, “Club Secret and the Surprise Visitor,” at JAKES in the fall of 2010 and the sale of three pictures of the actual deer.

Put things in your writing space that you cherish. Objects which motivate you, perhaps old books with wonderful covers. Hang framed diplomas, contest winnings, or achievements on the wall to encourage your writing. When you enter this room it will be a happy reminder of what you are and want to become.

Have you published anything, even once or maybe many times? Frame the article or story or cover so you’ll remember the day you received that first acceptance. Make a copy of your first check or the one you are the most proud and display it. It’s a happy reminder that someone liked your work enough to pay for it, especially on days when a fat rejection waits in your mailbox. You might ask are rejections really fat? Actually they are very skinny; too skinny in fact, which usually tells you they’re rejections before you open them. However, contracts are nice and chubby!

Okay, maybe you don’t have a spare bedroom or a beautiful office. Even if your writing space is a closet, a corner in the laundry room or a desk in your bedroom, make it your designated area for writing. Make or buy a sign that reads Writer at Work, Storyteller, or something funny concerning the writing world. Play it up. You’re a writer in your heart; make a real spot for it in your home. Your writing space really does matter!

Christine is married, the mother of three, and grandmother of eight. She lives in upstate New York. She's been published in many children’s magazines, print and online. Her life stories are included in several anthology books and she's the author of eight mystery books. Her newest, “Solve a Cozy Mystery-35 Mini-Mysteries with Solutions,” is available online, in print, Kindle and NOOK Book.


  1. How nice to read Christine's guest blog. I've read many of her books and many articles she's had on writing and always feel inspired after doing so. So great of you to share other writers' thoughts, Susan.

  2. Christine has been there for me in the long haul. Every writer should have a bud like her! We have many other things in common, too. Thanks for commenting, Cindy!