Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Diva demands for a writing workspace

Every now and then I’ll read one of those lists of crazy celebrity demands. You know the stuff I’m talking about – the model who requires an assistant to pre-chew her bubble gum or the rock star who insists everything in his dressing room be orange.

We snicker at those lists because they’re absurd, but I confess – I have a few requirements for my writing space. While I won't hurl myself on the floor and scream until my demands are met, here are the things I find it hard to work without when I'm writing.
  • Water. Not just water, but ice water. I probably drink gallons of it every day, and I get twitchy if I don’t have a full glass within reach.
  • A keyboard and mouse. Though my main computer is a laptop, I keep a wireless mouse and full-sized keyboard hooked to it. I can deal with the regular laptop keyboard and trackpad if I’m traveling, but I don’t like writing that way for any extended period.
  • Music. Blame it on tinnitus (a constant ringing in my ears that will drive me bat-sh*t crazy if I’m forced to sit in a silent room) but I absolutely must have music at all times. Pandora internet radio is my favorite, but I’ll sit here humming show tunes if it’s the only way to avoid silence.
  • Warmth. I get cold easily, and there are few things I hate more than having to sit on my hands every 20 seconds to keep my fingers from freezing. I have a small space-heater under my desk and I’ve been known to crank it even in summertime.
  • Pets. While it’s not an absolute requirement, there’s something I love about having a living, breathing, panting, purring creature near me while I write. The dog’s bed is right under my desk, though it’s most often occupied by Blue Cat. There’s also a cat tree in on one corner, though Matt the Cat prefers my lap.
So those are my five diva demands for my writing workspace. What are yours?

27 comments :

Becky Taylor said...

Something warm to drink, preferably caffeinated and classical music, turned down very low. I listen to practically everything from country to rap, throughout the day, but for writing there has to be no words.

Oh, and I too have a huge problem with body heat. Fuzzy blanket, robe, and socks with slippers. Recently, my hands have been really cold. My husband said I look like Bob Cratchit typing away in my new fingerless gloves. I had to promise to not wear them to bed.

Sarah W said...

No demands except that people stop asking every three minutes if they can play Barbie games on my laptop, now, Mommy? Oh, sure, my husband says he'll stop . . .

Oddly enough, sometimes all I want of my writing space is that it not be my usual writing space -- I'm always going somewhere else (coffee shop, different room of the house, library) to mix it up.

Matthew Rush said...

I'm basically a very laid back person, but I'm absolutely anal about having a big, clicky keyboard when writing. I prefer an IBM but a Dell will work. Unless I'm on the Mac. Then I like that white keyboard with the clear bottom.

I can revise and even re-write, if I have to, on a laptop keyboard, but I absolutely cannot draft on one.

lora96 said...

Couch. Laptop. Dogs.

Also was very deeply excited to see "Diva" in the title today. My laptop has a diva sticker on it. In red jewels. Cuz that's how I roll.

Anne Gallagher said...

Coke, high test, the drink not the drug, and absolute silence. Cannot work with noise. I don't even answer the phone.

Danica Avet said...

I have some similar must haves. I have to have music playing. It isn't something my brain will compromise on. It has to be something good and it can't be interrupted by commercials, so no radio stations for me.
I have to have something to drink whether it's water or coffee (mostly water though).
I have to have a mouse. I can deal with my laptop keyboard although I prefer my full-size when I can use it.
I need internet service because I never know when I'll need to look up something since I research as I write.
Last thing I need is a comfy chair. I used to sit at the kitchen table and write, but those chairs hurt my butt too much, so comfy chairs are a must. That's about it really.

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

Aside from the harem of beautiful women waving leafy palm fronds to provide the perfect breeze I'm pretty easy.

Delia said...

I'm with you on the music. It helps to block out Dora the Explorer (must she really yell all the time?). And a warm beverage. It doesn't really matter what kind, as long as it's warm.

Other than that, I'm with Sarah W. Stop interrupting me and go use the other computer, already! I don't care if it's slow.

scarlettspace said...

Coffee and Pandora- two of my musts = ) & Yup I'm with Sarah W. and Delia stop interrupting me and just play with the iPad or something.

Summer Frey said...

I like having tea, but I always have my water bottle. Music is a must, doesn't matter what kind, as long as it fits the mood. Chapstick liberally applied before I start to write. At least one lit candle.

And I also like having my cats nearby. I have a bed on the long arm of the L-shape on my desk, and a cat tree right next to it in the window. Both are usually occupied, unless one is in my lap.

lynnrush said...

Nice!
I'm with you on the music need, for sure! Pandora is pretty good, but I like to choose a few faves and put them on repeat.
I like my desk area neat. So I often have to tidy it up before I settle down.
My favorite sweatshirt. It's an old raggy thing, but I prefer to have that on when I'm writing. :)
A drink. I'm a professed Dt. Pepsi addict, but I'm trying to cut down a little, so if I can't have that, I'll have water with a splash of lemon. I like room temperature water better than ice water, though.

This was fun. So, do mine make me a diva? I've always wanted to be a diva. :)

Simon C. Larter said...

1. Alcohol
2. Something on which to write
3. Something on which to sit
4. Alcohol
5. Alcohol

I think that about sums it up....

German Chocolate Betty said...

We solved the fighting over the computer as follows: WiFi in the house. Kid got his MacBook for his Xmas/15th birthday gift from, oh, the whole world (grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, etc.). Hubby and I have netbooks. One old laptop w/normal sized screen for long slogs. We'd tried to get by with two machines (1 for kid, 1 for grownups) but hubby and I ended up having gazillion fights about who needed email RIGHT NOW and who could wait. It was worth the $300 for my own netbook.

But for serious writing (like I do at work) I have the following:

1. Two monitors (one of those extra wide 28" can work too) so I can see more than one document at a time. W/two monitors I have one landscape (normal) and one portrait (turned 180 degrees, like a page). The long one is great because you really get a full page fullsize or better...the other one displays reference materials, notes, etc.

2. Ergonomic keyboard (one of those goofy split things that looks pregnant, if'n you get my drift)

3. Music in the background (for focus and also because of tinnitus)

4. Coffee in the a.m., rooibos tea in the afternoon (no more caffeine).

5. Snacks -- best are anything chocolate, but I am trying to reform, so today I have green grapes and clementines sitting here...

(Oooh, am I sounding like the ultimate spoiled writing diva???)

Would love to bring my poochie in (used to do so one weekends at another employer, where she curled up under my desk). When I am working at home cat drives me somewhat nuts, because she always wants to lie on the keyboard of the laptop (where it's warm) . She has occasionally done some damage... Mostly she just lays there, making keys repeating 'til you get the PEEP-PEEP-PEEP tone, which freaks her out, but she continues just to lay there with wild bugged-out eyes and ears laid back (stupid critter...)

German Chocolate Betty said...

Oops -- before anybody else points this out, in my last msg I said one monitor was turned 180 degrees, meant 90 degrees, of course...

German Chocolate Betty said...

Just saw Simon's entry ("alcohol...")...

Ahhahahahahahahhaaaaaa!!

Maybe we could be writing partners?!

Jess said...

Noise: music (my WIP loves A Perfect Circle, and has since I first drafted the book as a teenager), TV, or the boyfriend playing video games. I know the last two sound absurd, but I do most of my work (writing, grad school work, freelance work) with TV or games going on in the background.

Laptop. No mouse or keyboard requirements, though I do kind of miss my old desktop. I use a lap desk.

The rest are easy: water or coffee, snacks, comfy seating (usually the couch), and I like having the cat around but she craves attention and loves to get between me and the computer.

Patty Blount said...

We've talked about my lust for your writing desk before, so tops on my list is that: a desk of my very own.

My dad just gave me one - an antique reproduction. It's a drop-leaf thingie, with lots of tiny drawers and cubbies.

There's just one problem. It's too high.

It's so fancy, you can't put an ergonomic adjustable chair with it, so it's paired with another antique reproduction that forces my arms up at uncomfortable angles for typing.

*sighs* I was so close but it's back to the drawing board...

T.M. Lunsford said...

I don't have many requirements.

- I am picky about my chair. It needs to move in some way (roll, rock, preferably both) and I need to be able to curl up/cross my legs in it comfortably.

- I need noise. Usually, it has to be TV (Netflix, Itunes, real tv, w/e). Some days, when my focus is being particularly fickle, I'll switch to music.

- Unless I'm in a bad/agitated move, I need the internet to aid and abet my self-diagnosed ADD.

Tere Kirkland said...

LOL, Simon, we should get together and dr.. er, write! ;)

I need to be warm and hydrated, too, but most of all, I love to have the Soundscapes channel on. It's all New Age, instrumental music with panflutes and didgeridoos and other instruments I don't know how to spell.

It keeps out the outside world and all its distractions without becoming a distraction itself.

Fun post!

kd easley said...

I wrote my first books in a cramped corner of my bedroom next to a window that leaked so much air it was like sitting next to a fan. My kids wondered in from time to time to flop on my bed and visit or read over my shoulder. I usually printed out pages and made them read. :) The tv was blaring in the other room and occasional fights broke out between the kids the kids and the dog, the dog and the cats, the cats and the furniture, well, you get the picture. It was madness. Now I have a lovely writing desk. The kids are grown and I seldom have interruptions and I find it kind of difficult to concentrate. I seemed to write better when the world was involved in the process.

Douglas Morrison said...

I have no such needs. I'm able to write with the simple things in life. A bowl of green M&Ms, a Mariachi band playing Neil Young songs outside my window (even on rainy days), my spell check - spell checker standing near by and the kids I pay to walk up and down my street holding placards that say "You Da Author Man".

Yup! The simple life works best for me...

161 days till... Bwah-Ha-Ha!

All the Best!

Doug

Nicholas Denmon said...

I love it. I too have a few requirements. My itunes is constantly running, and I need a notepad to write on in case I can't think and type at the same time.

I was thinking though (not while I was typing of course but while I was writing this thought in a notepad), if your hands get cold while you type it might be because of the ice water?

hilbit said...

I need...
A desk and chair of the correct height so my arms aren't higher than my waist, causing my neck to seize up, my arms to go numb, and giving me that attractive Quasimodo look. (The desk I have is good; the chair, not so much. Maybe it's time to go shopping.)

Absolutely no talking. No TV. Music is okay.

My cat sleeping quietly somewhere in the room.

I love your posts. I'd say 99.9% make me laugh, in a good way.

London Mabel said...

I thought I had a permanent ringing in my ears, cause I blast a lot of loud music, esp when writing. Turned out I just needed to clean out my ears (I mean with that little bulb that shoots water in your ears, and with some wax softener) !! Then they were fine. :-) Probably more info than you wanted to know, but I put that out there in case anyone else can benefit. ??

As a random aside, Van Halen used to include seemingly diva-ish riders in its contract as a way to make sure the concert venue has read the contract all the way through, so there wouldn't be any accidents re how the stage was set up. If they didn't see red MnMs, they knew there was trouble. I learned that recently... had to share. :-)

Linda G. said...

Can I just take Simon's list? I may not get much writing done that way, but I'd have fun not doing it. ;)

Sharla Scroggs said...

I write with perpetual chaos going on around me...TVs blaring from every room, hubby always needing, daughter always needing...

But I must have a tall glass of either sweet tea or water, with crushed ice. Emphasis on the crushed ice. Must. Have. It. iPod is necessary as well, but it ends up on and off and on and off when said people above come in and out of the room. I write in a big leather recliner, with Old Dog Ruby curled up next to me and usually a blankie. Longhand first. Laptop next to me on a side table so I can follow Twitter...since it's my crack.

Jason said...

1 - Comfortable chair. I tend to lounge a little as a write, so I need a chair that leans back and is comfy.

2 - Something to drink. Coffee, water, beer, milk, tea...something. Always have to have something.

3 - The dog. Not the cats, because they want to be in my lap which is not optimal to lounging and writing. The dog, though, will just chill with me and allow puppy love breaks. She is encourage not to be at my feet, because she always manages to find just the right space that leaves me at a suboptimal distance from the keyboard.

4 - Good lighting. The lighting in my office blows...I really need to address this one.

5 - Scratch pad. I am forever making one word notes that make sense when I make them but not much later. I need the pad to keep a chronology of these thoughts, whether I can use them or not.

Music I can take or leave...I tend to not really hear anything anyway when I'm in the zone. My wife can attest to that. :)