How to Create an Inspiring Work Space (for under $20)

With a few simple, inexpensive tricks, you can turn any area—no matter how small, and even if you write in a coffee shop or other public place—into a crucible for creativity.
Publish date:

Every writer deserves “a room of one’s own,” as Virginia Woolf famously put it. If space is at a premium in your life, though, it can be tough to claim your territory where you can explore your ideas and block out distractions. But with a few simple, inexpensive tricks, you can turn any area—no matter how small, and even if you write in a coffee shop or other public place—into a crucible for creativity.

This guest post is by Kendra Levin. Levin helps writers and other creative artists meet their goals and connect more deeply with their work and themselves. She is a certified life coach, as well as a senior editor at penguin, teacher, and author of The Hero Is You.

Kendra Levin-featured

Visit her at and follow her @kendralevin.

Enclose your space.

If you have a full room, that’s easy—shut the door. If your writing area is just a corner of a room or a desk, hang curtains around it, build walls out of your books or a bookcase, or in some other way separate it from the rest of the room. Or do it with lighting—have a lamp you turn on when you’re writing that illuminates only your creative zone. If you work in public, “enclose” your space by having a garment—like a sweater, hoodie, or hat—that you only wear when you write.

Another way to virtually enclose your space if you’re working on-the-go is by creating a desktop on your laptop that’s dedicated to writing. Nearly all operating systems allow you to create separate desktops, so make one that only includes programs you use for writing and research.

[How Long Should Novel Chapters Be? Click here to find out.]

Bring nature into your view.

Studies have shown that having a view of nature stimulates creativity in the brain. If you have the option, choose a spot that faces a window overlooking some natural element; even an ivy vine climbing the wall of the building across the street or an overgrown vacant lot full of weeds will do. Get a plant; perhaps something low-maintenance like bamboo, succulents, cactus, or an air plant. Even having the color green in your field of vision when you’re at work has been proven to subliminally stimulate creativity.

If the place where you write doesn’t have a view of nature, buy a water bottle or reusable coffee mug with a picture of plants on it. Make your computer’s wallpaper a photo of a jungle or forest. Or paint your fingernails green!

Support your spine.

Sit in a comfortable chair, or get a pillow or cushion you can place under your lower back. Writing for extended periods of time can be rough on the body, so make sure you’re sitting in a way that prevents back pain. Get a cushion you can bring with you to make any location ergonomically friendly.

Keep your favorite resources in arm’s reach.

Thanks to the Internet’s wealth of information, you don’t need to have a huge library of reference material in your writing area, but it’s nice to have a few favorites close at hand. Keep your most dog-eared helpers—your dictionary or thesaurus, your favorite books on craft, or your most beloved classics—in your creative space. Even when you’re not thumbing through them, they can be visual touchstones to remind you that this place is dedicated to writing. If you work in a coffee shop, keep shortcut links to your favorite web resources on your desktop.

[9 Practical Tricks for Writing Your First Novel]

Pick an icon.

Who inspires you most? It might be your favorite author, but it could be anybody you admire, living or dead, a famous person or someone you know personally, or even a fictional character. Whoever is your spirit animal, your patron saint, identify them and put a picture of this person in your space to inspire you. If you work on-the-go, bring your icon with you—make a sticker to put on your laptop or beverage container, or get a tote bag with an image of your icon on it—for inspiration anywhere.

Above all, remember that the most important space for writing is the one you create in your psyche. When you set aside time, put aside distractions, and do the work, you’ll forget all about your surroundings and immerse yourself in the world you’re creating on the page. And that’s a space that can never be taken away from you.

BONUS: The Book Every Writer Should Have on His/Her Bookshelf

Need an idea for a short story or novel? Look no further than
The Writer's Idea Thesaurus. Organized by subject, theme and situation categories,
it's the perfect writing reference to break out out of any writing funk.
Order now from our shop and get a discount!

The Writer's Idea Thesaurus

Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:

Thanks for visiting The Writer's Dig blog. For more great writing advice, click here.


Brian A. Klems is the editor of this blog, online editor of Writer's Digest and author of the popular gift bookOh Boy, You're Having a Girl: A Dad's Survival Guide to Raising Daughters.

Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianKlems
Sign up for Brian's free Writer's Digest eNewsletter: WD Newsletter
Listen to Brian on: The Writer's Market Podcast

Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.


The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.


Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.


Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.


Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.


Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.


Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.