Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This is my workspace

On occasion I'll get the urge to write some pages while I'm sitting on my couch or at my desk at work, but most of my writing time I spend here.

I'm a big believer in using habits to encourage productivity. I tell my students who have trouble reading that they should try finding a particular chair at a particular time of day and always read for a specific amount of time, and eventually their brains will come to associate that chair with reading. I see my desk as such a place. Pretty much the only thing I do at this desk is write, so when I sit down there my brain instantly goes into creative mode.

The desk is a little cluttery at the moment. This is the one room in the house where we still haven't found a place for everything, and some of the loose stuff landed on my desk and just stayed. One of my goals for the new year is to get this desk cleaned off.

If you look closely, you may notice I have three bottles of keyboard duster. I am not an addict, I am just obsessed with cleaning my keyboard. It's how I buy time when I'm stumped on a scene.

I painted the room slate gray because it is a soothing color and will not distract me from the task at hand. Plus, pretty. It's the first thing I did before I even unpacked boxes when we moved in.

To the right is my board where I put index cards of all my loglines, story ideas and rejection letters. I used to post up index cards outlining my story, but the last two stories have been written out in treatment form. That's what's on the paper holder to the right on the desk - page two of my second outline for Nice Girls.

When I write I get a full glass of water, pull my hair back in a loose ponytail, put on sugar plum lip gloss, clean off my keyboard with duster, then hook the computer up to my speakers.

I click on ITunes, Firefox and Movie Magic. I have three primary music playlists - Action, Romance, and Writing Music. I always start with Writing Music and adjust depending on whether or not the music feels appropriate.

I check my email. I check the blogs. I check Done Deal. After that I start writing. Sometimes I leave Firefox open because inevitably I will need to look something up, and I don't really get that distracted by it because I've already checked all my stuff before I start writing.

I set myself a goal for each day, usually a choice between page count, scene completion and time. Usually it's either two solid hours of writing, complete a specific sequence, or write five pages - whichever comes first. I do not stop until I have met one of those goals. Sometimes even after I've met a goal I'll decide I can keep going. And if I didn't complete five pages the day before I make sure to push out extra pages so I can meet a long term goal on schedule.

Once I decided to develop this pattern of writing behavior it's been easy to maintain a steady writing schedule.


  1. This is exactly how I imagined your writing space would look.

    Minus a big bamboo tree.

  2. I had to chuckle because, of course, I took note of the Miramax Books copy of the Pulp Fiction screenplay on your bookshelf.

    Every screenwriter I've ever known ALWAYS has a copy of that on their bookshelf on or near their writing space. I loaned mine out a few years back and it got lost. Within days I had a new one to replace it. It's probably even more critical to one's script educational library than anything by Field or McKee, ultimately!

  3. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Hey Emily,

    Okay but not okay, I used to have a setting like this, but got rid of it.

    How about this -this new year 2011 just change it all around. Try it. Don't get upset, just an idea. You know.

    From my experience unique and crazy and really crazy stuffs like INGLORIOUS BASTERDS or SOMEWHERE or TETRO or TAXI DRIVER scripts are done without logical planning or a desk.

    Most screenwriters have offices, rooms, computers and that comfy chair - but makes for basic you know, get the job done kind of screenwriting and where is my check kind of attitude. I find that boring.

    Just live the life a true artist. Go nuts, travel monthly, and write crazy pulp HORROR , thrillers, WORLD ZOMBIE Mixed Martial Art scripts, meet crazy but good looking guys, date athletes with blue eyes, teach in Japan, write a graphic novel with a pen pal, give Slamdance or Austin a Lesbian or Gay or Husband and Wives Gone With The Wind Zombie script, eat lots of poutines, hunt rabbits or King Fish or Boars (wild and unendangered ones), make a Mexican stew, write a Civil War epic script with Zombies, work for three handsome bosses at once, write cartoons, eat Korean and Italian food everday and clean the house only 4 times a month, brush your teeth 4 times a day, learn breakdancing with Wii, go Blonde, paint it light red....

    Forget that clean office style.

    Go Crazy.


  4. Heh. That's funny, David. I wish the desk was cleaner.

    Yeah, Jeff, it is a beautifully crafted script. I have my issues with Tarantino, but there's no ignoring that screenplay.

    And JC, that's great if it works for you, but I've already done a lot of those things. I spent several years writing mostly on a sofa and I hated it. I LOVE my office space.

    I want writing to become my job, so I treat it like a second job and it really works for me. I think it's important for us all to do whatever works for us. If writing in chaos works for you, go for it. It's not for me. I know because I've done it.

    And I don't just write about zombies. I wrote about zombies ONCE.

  5. Anonymous1:02 PM

    Is that an inkjet printer I spy? Any plans on going laser? In the long run it's cheaper (those inkjet cartridges are outrageously priced) and definitely a lot faster/cleaner.

  6. No that's an HP Laserjet. An old one, but it still works.

  7. Anonymous2:11 PM

    You mention that you check out Done Deal Pro before you start. LOL. I would love to see some the DD members' workspace. I bet a million dollars that it would like a college drop-in workspace: coke, chips, piles of paper, old pizza, tooth brush, socks, pajamas, kleenex, Chinese take out...

    As for me, I read Cinemablend and comingsoon and rottentomatoes and moviebytes before I start typing, for sure not Done Deal, LOL

    And I write in the Kitchen.

    Happy New Year,

  8. Kitchen, eh? Do you have a set work space or do you just plunk down with your laptop? Do you eat while you write? Does it smell good in there? This is interesting.

  9. I love seeing artist workspaces! Thanks for sharing. For such a creative busy brain, you sure have an organized work space, bravo.

    Luck is opportunity meeting preparation and you are doing lovely preparation, may all sorts of doors be opening for you in 2011.

    I'm on same wavelength, living the life we want (and getting damn good at whatever we're doing) leads to the life we want. And writers write. So lots of writing in 2011!


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