Fashion Forward Writer: Desk Fashion
What is the desk accessory every writer wants? Is there a particular desk accessory you can't live without? Our columnists Virginia Heath and Rachel Dove tell us what's on their desk.
Now that I am a full-time writer, I spend a ridiculous number of hours sitting at my desk so it's important to have it just so.
For a start, the basics need to be fit for purpose. I write on a desktop computer rather than a laptop for two reasons. Firstly, it’s an awesome machine with a huge screen, loaded with the latest software.
Secondly, and most importantly, I associate my writing space with work. Just like any job, I arrive at my desk at the same sort of time Monday to Friday and close it down at around 5pm.
My office is very much my professional space and so I treat it as such. I also have a proper chair which supports my spine and a footrest. The correct posture ensures I don’t have back, neck or RSI related wrist or arm problems. I make no apologies for the old-lady blanket-it keeps me snuggly in the winter. I have a collection of those.
I think it’s also important to work in a pleasant environment, so I’m a bit of a neat freak in the office. The rest of the house might fall to rack and ruin but my little room is always clutter-free. Close to hand are all the things I might need during the course of a day and some pretty things to stare at when I’m thinking. This jaunty bouquet of paper flowers was a gift from my creative 8-year-old adopted niece Ruby, the daughter of some old friends. I love that she spent hours making something special just for me and they never die. I’ve just spritzed them with some Chanel Chance so they smell lovely too.
My office is stuffed with books, but the shelf above my desk only holds essential research for my current WIP and writing books like my thesaurus which I use when I need a bit of help. There is also a comfy seating area for when I have visitors to my little cave, which make it the perfect place to work collaboratively with someone or to simply chat with my kids or Mr H during a well-earned tea break.
As for things I couldn’t live without which earn a coveted place on my mostly clear desk, there is decent hand cream, my 4head stick when I get a headache and because I wear glasses there is always a couple of lens wipes alongside my Trevor the Dog ornament. Not sure why I need the ornament or the framed picture of my mutt, as he is always snoring at my feet as I write. Or on them. Trevor has little regard for the concept of personal space!
Next to that is also my Disney-themed stationary set which I brought back from Florida years ago when I only dreamed of having an office and writing books. They remind me of how far I have come and that, in the cheesy words of Jiminy Cricket, dreams can come true. The scissors are completely useless but make me smile.
And finally, the most essential item are my jaunty red computer glasses. Without them I cannot see a damn thing and they are the exact right prescription to view the screen perfectly. I got red to distinguish them from my distance glasses (I have a black pair and a brown pair) and my pink reading glasses. Besides, red is my favourite colour and it’s important to feel brave and fabulous while writing.
When people think of writers, you can forgive them for thinking of J.K. Rowling, working in a coffee shop, or a romance writer, dressed in flouncy pink, dictating on a chaise longue whilst devouring bon-bons. I blame Little Britain for that one. The truth is far less glamorous. I write in my head, in the shower, on the back of receipts, on Post-Its at 2am when a plot point comes to me in my dreams. My bedroom mirror is littered with random musings. Anyone reading them would probably be alarmed!
The truth is, fancy gadgets enhance the writing experience, but they don't alter the fact that a writer needs to apply their bum to a seat and write the words. All of them. In the right order, to convey the right message. We all read other books, watch the markets, see what trends are popular - vampire romances, sci-fi love, woman meets man, man becomes jerk, woman leaves man for better man. But in the end we do what matters: Write.
I have a desk, a comfortable chair, a lap top, dictaphone, writing books, and enough fancy notebooks to open my own shop. The accessories on my desk that are the most important are my keepsakes. I have a little statue of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr, hello!), pictures of my family, clippings of my work in newspapers and magazines, things that make me happy.
The truth is, writing is from the heart. If you don't write from the heart I firmly believe that it shows on the page, and the readers pick up on it too. So I have my gadgets, my papers and books, but I make sure my heart is firmly in place in my writing area too. They keep me smiling on the days when the words won't flow, and keep reminding me how far I have come and just how lucky I am. I could write in a cardboard box, if there were pictures on the walls.