Set up for Success
Settings are as important for writers as they are for storybook characters.
Settings influence characters in ways that propel stories forward or hinder their progress. In the same way, the writer's environment makes a difference, too. For me, a home office has made all the difference.
I set up my home office last year. It's not perfect, but it is a nice setting for my writing. I find that when it's organized and tidy, my writing is also clear and concise. The reverse is also true, and I often find my desk cluttered with notes, planner pages, and random ideas on stickies for later transfer into my idea journal. For this reason, I usually start my day by cleaning my space and writing out my to-do list.
Aside from an organized desk, my productivity relies on other tools I use for brainstorming. One of my favorite tools is the stick-on white board I have on the wall to the right of my desk. I use it to jot down ideas and draw very amateur pictures of items from my books. Surrounding this whiteboard are pictures I've found across the internet that I use for inspiration for characters or settings. I can't show those here for copyright reasons and also because I don't want to give away any information on plot or characters. So, I've altered the picture a little, but the general idea of the space is there. (Since I live in a desert, you'll also notice the fan sitting beside the image! You might also spot Moss Hill. I commissioned that drawing, so I can safely include that here.)
While I love the whiteboard, the stick-on wall calendar is also helpful. I like to write not just events, but major to-do items onto the calendar as well. Above and below it, I have the months laid out with the books I plan to write for the year stuck onto the wall in the months I plan to publish them. I altered the picture not to include that, as plans do change and I also think it's nice to surprise readers with series rather than showing ones that may change.
Right behind my desk is a closet. It took a lot of doing, but I fit my printer and storage materials (like extra paper and other office supplies) into the small space. With a swivel chair, everything is within arms reach and I don't have to get up to do anything. Which is why I snuck a treadmill in the corner of the room. I have one of those plastic desks attached to the treadmill so I can write and walk at the same time. To be honest, it doesn't get much use, but I'm hoping to change that this year.
It might seem like it's a large office, but it's actually a small space with a ton of Ikea furniture fit inside it. Still, I find it a peaceful environment for writing. My favorite part is the window directly across from my desk. It looks inside the courtyard to the front door of my home, so there's plenty of sunlight and privacy. I prefer rain, but those days are rare in Arizona. That's why when the rainclouds do visit, I'm usually in my office, writing up a storm.
Whether you're a writer, a reader, or both, settings are important. Maybe you have a home office, or a cozy spot in the house for reading (mine is the couch in my living room). Wherever you most enjoy stories, I hope you have plenty of time in 2020 to explore the imaginary worlds in your favorite books.