I’ve talked to freelance writers who sit on their beds to write, take over the dining room table or head out to cafes. But I’ve always found it easier to work when I have my own little office area — even when it was just a desk wedged into my dorm room. Most of us don’t have an office area separate from our homes, but I have put together a list of ways to make your office space easier to work in.
- Keep everything at hand. When I’m working, I don’t want to get up for things like spare pens. If need be, I’ll cart along a bunch of office supplies,
whether I’m going to a cafe or to the couch.
- File paperwork. There’s nothing wrong with keeping paperwork on your desk that you consult often. But if we’re talking about stuff like notes for a completed project, go ahead and file it. I have two very used filing cabinets that may actually be older than I am, but they work just fine. Shredding papers and getting rid of them is also a good option.
- Plan ahead for meetings. You may have clients who want to meet face-to-face. Decide from the outset if your clients are welcome in your home. There is no right or wrong answer to the question — and there are plenty of other options if you don’t want to hold meetings at home. I hold all my business meetings at Panera: free wireless and much better coffee than I could make.
- Light your office. I have a hard time working in dark surroundings, and it puts a strain on my eyes. When I’m looking at a workspace, lighting is a priority. Currently, I’ve got a couple of lamps with CF bulbs that completely meet my needs.
- Pick comfortable equipment. If you plan to be typing for hours a day, it’s in your best interest to sit in a comfortable chair. You might also want to look into ergonomic keyboards and other equipment, to help prevent issues like carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Create an inspiring environment. While completely changing the decor of your workspace may not be an option, consider personal touches which can make it easier to keep writing day after day. A good start is sound: I’ve got music going whenever I’m working. I’ve worked with one writer who needed nature sounds, and I’ve seen a designer who couldn’t produce without heavy metal pounding in the background. Other little touches that could liven up your workspace: plants, posters and pictures.
- Shut the door. I don’t think most freelance writers need to shut the door on their office 24-7, but (especially if you have regular interruptions) you need the ability to close people out occasionally and just work.
An office doesn’t have to be perfect — I’d call mine a work in progress. It doesn’t even have to be very large. But creating a workspace is making a commitment to your career as a freelance writer: it’s a way to say that you’re serious about getting your work done.