Invest & Prosper: Investment #2—Your Writing Space

Christina KatzBy Christina Katz

When it comes to thinking about your writing space, the key is to think incrementally. Sure, you can start a nonfiction writing career with a basket or briefcase containing a pen, a journal and a magazine you’d like to write for someday. But eventually, you will look around and realize that humble basket has transformed itself like Cinderella’s pumpkin into a home office, complete with your bulging portfolio of published work, a CEO-worthy desk, an up-to-date computer system. And see those bookshelves over there, they have space reserved for your very own books.

Don’t get hung up on how much space you do or don’t have. In the same vein, don’t get discouraged if you don’t have the best, most up-to-date equipment. Don’t bemoan whatever physical circumstances you find yourself starting out in. Just make the most of what you already have with an intention to expand incrementally from here on out. Remember: What you don’t have today is a result of what you didn’t do consistently for so many yesterdays. If you want to change the outcome, change your actions…today.

I just posted in my blog about three writer mamas who took the circumstances they found themselves in, rolled up their sleeves, and dove in. When you go to their Websites and blogs, you won’t see all of the work that they’ve done, but you see a writing career that has definitely taken root. The space where you write is the place where your writing career takes root.

Specifically plan to reinvest a percentage of what you earn into the expansion of your workspace. Go ahead and pay yourself first. Most home office purchases are a tax write-off, so track every single receipt and consult your tax preparer. If you are a do-it-yourselfer like me, check out The Writer’s Pocket Tax Guide by Darlene A. Cypser, Esq.

I suggest you prepare for your future home office by putting down on paper what you’d like your future space to look like.

Is it large or small?
A quiet nook or a sunny room?
Do you like lots of bookshelves or clean, white walls?
A fireplace?
A comfy rocking chair or couch?
Will you decorate in a particular style or just with lots of color and panache?
What color are the walls in your office?
What computer will you use?
What software will you need?
What kinds of pens, pads, and paper will you buy regularly?
What email provider will you use?
When can you afford the fastest Internet connection?
Can your printer also fax, copy and print photos?

Think this sounds like a fantasy? It isn’t. I keenly remember what it felt like to want the office and income I have today. I remember what it was like in the beginning: the practically empty portfolio, the file cabinet begging to become full, the list of writers admired from afar, and most challenging of all, my confusion about the single next most important step to take to get to all of these destinations. Envision what you want and what you need and then, gradually, invest in it.

Because writing spaces don’t tend to be widely accessible or visible to the public, I usually study photos of artist’s studios for inspiration instead. Witnessing how any creative person claims their space will lift you up out of your present circumstances and into the realm of possibility. When you see a look you like in a magazine, rip out the page and post it on a bulletin board to visualize your future office. Look at it often and expect change soon.

Okay, now that we’ve dreamed a little, let’s get back to basics. What do you absolutely need in your office space to launch the business you’ve projected for 2008? Don’t balk and say you can’t have it. Why not skim a little bit from your grocery bill to purchase items a little bit at a time if you don’t have enough writing income yet? I once knew a watercolor artist who used this strategy and ended up with her art displayed in the Smithsonian.

Would a doctor launch a professional practice out of his or her car? Probably not. But you can, if it’s the only place you can find enough peace and quiet to imagine the writing space that you deserve.

Plan to graduate to something better soon and you will.

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Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform. She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on “Good Morning America.” Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at http://www.thewritermama.com/.

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3 Responses to “Invest & Prosper: Investment #2—Your Writing Space”


  1. 1 Holly Bowne February 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Christina:

    I’m new to the “blogging world,” but I regularly receive your “Writers On The Rise” E-zine and very much appreciate it. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your tip about skimming a little from the grocery bill to make necessary purchases to establish a writing career. That never occurred to me! I often feel incredibly guilty, and won’t spend more money than I’ve taken in (which so far isn’t much!). But if I really want to make this freelance writing career work, (and I do!) then I’ve got to become more financially creative. Thanks for the great advice!

    Holly Bowne

  2. 2 Sandra Hamlett February 9, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Hi Christina,

    This entry comes at the perfect moment for me. I just wrote on my blog “The Serendipitous Life” that I need a “Room of My Own”. I’ve been trying to fit my writing in between all the demands of a household with children. My office has been in our dining room and right in the middle of Grand Central Station (as I like to call it). I was getting frustrated with the constant interruptions. I couldn’t understand why no one was taking my writing seriously when it suddenly I was the main person not taking my writing seriously. Right now I’m in the process of taking over what has been our tv/guest room as my office- a real room with a door.

    Sandra Hamlett


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