Thursday 5 September 2013

Workspace and Ritual

Hello readers and welcome to the first of many generic writers tips covered by me but also I have extra exciting news. Each week, when I upload a new writers tip topic, published authors will be contributing to this blog to offer professional help, alongside my amateur views! I feel so lucky to have them on board and urge you to look them all up and try to purchase their books and add them to your reading list. I have all sorts of writers on board! All their details can be found at the end of each of their features. Please do visit their personal blogs and read their brilliant books. 

I just want to give you an outline of this blog, what it’s about, target audience and how often you should tune in to catch up with these writing tips. 
This page of my blog will offer amateur writers some tips and hints on how to improve their writing skills. It is therefore aimed at amateur writers, however everyone, of course, is welcome :) A new blog will go up every Thursday or Friday discussing a new, generic topic under the title; Writers Tips. Please see my introduction blog below for examples that will be covered and stay tuned for further posts. 

So, without further delay I will jump into our first topic which is looking at the importance of your workspace and writing ritual...


Some of you, as writers, may have the lucky streak of being able to write anywhere, anytime. On the bus whilst an old lady's head slowly drifts towards your shoulder. In the never ending queue at the post office on your lunch break. However, for the rest of us, we like to have a workspace, an area in our house where we can go and let our creative thoughts flow. 
For me, I find comfort on my sofa, curled up with my Macbook Pro resting on the sofas arm or my lap. The things I will always have with me when writing are my story plan (something we will look into at a later date), character lists and even sketches or drawings I have produced to help me tell the story. I may also allow myself a couple of choccy biscuits to keep my energy fueled! 
My key tip for writers - especially those just starting out - is to decorate your workspace with character profiles, images relating to your stories (if you’re writing about a real setting, pictures of that place), family trees for your characters, story sequences and even inspirational quotes. One of my contributing writers, Jonathan Lee, has a lyric from a song pinned on the wall in his workspace. The lyric is: “Maybe I should be a writer, write a book and feel much brighter and share my thoughts with the world.” This lyric was taken from a song called ‘Maybe’ by a band named The Wonder Stuff. About these lyrics Lee says “I heard the song about 20 years ago and it’s stuck with me. Love it.” He later added that they are “very inspirational.” 
Even little things like this can really help your writing excel.
Have a dictionary and theasaurus floating around too. These are so important when it comes to writing, especially when you’re editing your first, second or hundredth draft! A publisher will disregard novels sent to them with spelling mistakes. 


When it comes to when you should write, this is again something that depends on your personal style. The ritual of preparing to write is just as important as the writing task itself. For me I tend to log in when I feel inspired to write or creative enough to produce something worthy for the story. I am quite against the idea of forced writing, even though it can all be edited at a later date. Other than that I can’t say I have a set ‘ritual’ but a great tip for writing is to come with one that you can easily stick to. Especially if you are not easily motivated, putting a ritual in place may help you stick to a timescale and indeed encourage you, even when you would rather be procrastinating! But don't make this impossible to complete. For example, if like me you work full time, don't then diarise yourself to write for two hours every night as well. It's just going to drain you and you need to feel energetic and creative when writing.
A problem that occurs with most writers is ideas coming to you at awful times. You will not always be in a place convenient enough to start writing a detailed story plan. However, there are solutions for this. Mine is to carry a small notebook around with me wherever I go, or always make sure my phone is free to quickly note down my thoughts. This little tip can also come in handy if you’re on a bus, for example, and overhear an interesting conversation you’d like to remember for a story, or spot an interesting character across from you in a restaurant. 

Let’s now see what my contributing authors have to say about their Workspace and Rituals. I will of course do the honours of introducing them as we go... 

Jack Lacey

A former health journalist, a geopathic dowser and fiction writer of twelve years who is about to publish his fourth novel. 

Jack says:

First things first... Thanks Amie for inviting me to input on your great blog! It’s a real pleasure to be here... 
Workspace and ritual are both exceedingly important subjects for the serious author to consciously consider. As writers, most of us like to write from the heart and with passion; to be lost in that story which suddenly envelopes us from nowhere. 
I’d like to start with Ritual... that first part of the pre-writing ritual is not to hamstring myself from the beginning. Say ‘No’ to that party invite or weekend break if that little indie voice is saying... I NEED to write! If you get the ‘urge’ you just have to run with it, as there are plenty of times when it just doesn’t flow! 
The next point is clearing the mental decks before you sit down. I have a few simple tricks, and for me the best by far is by taking a walk in nature. Nature calms our mind-chatter down, it helps our brain and body frequencies resonate to that of nature’s frequency, which is not only beneficial for our health but relaxes our thoughts dramatically. For me the next best thing is YOGA. You don’t have to be some bendy guru or have beautiful cotton garments or an expensive mat to do a few positions. All I did was buy a discount yoga book and learned to do just a few simple poses at home. My third option in my pre-writing armoury is a nice hot bath with some aromatherapy oils. (Yes, even us men can do that). 
Next, I switch off the phone and log off the internet! Writing is your sacred time. Don’t be available and don’t get distracted. 
As for Workspace, I think it’s different for everyone, depending on how much choice you have. Be bold is my advice on this front and trust in what you need to do to support your writing. Depending on what stage I’m at with my writing, colours my choice of venue and my approach. Sometimes, I like a view and the feeling of space around me. Sometimes though, I have to shut myself away in the bedroom for that ‘hideaway effect’. As writers, I think we can feel isolated too, and sometimes we just need to be around other people during the creative process. For this I’ll find a cafe in town. 
Never stop believing that you’ll get your wonderful book finished... 

For more information on Jack Lacey and his books please visit his website where you can read the first six chapters for FREE of his new, road-trip thrill, novel ‘American Crow’. Or check out his blog at Finally, you can tweet him via @jacklaceybooks.

Jack Croxall

Author of the YA Victorian Mystery, ‘Tethers’ and dark journal ‘X’. Writing has been a lifelong talent for Jack which he began pursuing professionally in 2008. 

Jack says: 

I think one of the most important ingredients for a productive writing session is the location in which you write. Personally, I find setting up and returning to a particular space really helps me to make real progress when I delve into my fictional words. 
If you return to the same area and do the same kind of activity there day in day out, I think i’m right in saying that your brain begins to associate said space and its specific cues (aesthetics, sounds, smells etc) with the mindset needed for that particular brand of activity. 

Let’s see a picture of Jack’s very own workspace where he mentions “the table is a good height, the chair suitably comfortable and I have a window to stare expectantly out of when I’m desperately seeking inspiration.” 

For more information on Jack Croxall and his novels you can visit his website: or tweet him via @JackCroxall 

Sharon Sant

Author of YA novels ‘Runners’, ‘The Memory Game’ and the ‘Sky Song’ trilogy. Sharon has been writing her entire like, but took until 2009 to graduate from Staffordshire University with a first class honours in English and Creative Writing. 

Sharon Says: 

I’d love to say that I have a fabulous summer house at the bottom of the garden equipped with heated floors, luxurious padded seats and Apple Mac, but, in reality, I have a corner of the dining table or a tub chair in the bedroom with my old laptop. 
While I’m writing I need a window to look out of and buckets of tea. I graze a lot too, but trips to the kitchen are more for movement than because I need them; when I’m stuck it helps to get the mojo working to get up and potter about. 

Let’s have a look at Sharon’s workspace before we learn of her writing rituals. 

Sharon says:

If I have a cracking idea for a story, you can usually bet i’m in the supermarket queue or driving to work - somewhere where it’s impossible to begin writing it down. When I’m out I always have a notebook with me so I’ll scribble in there. If I’m at the office in my day job, I’ll email a plan or first paragraph home to myself. 
I can type faster than I can write and my initial thoughts are always at the speed of light so I have to type it if I can. I use the computer screen for the first few drafts, then when I’m happy with those I will line edit and proofread from my kindle - I just feel like everything looks much clearer on there. Kindles are a great invention, if only just for that reason! 

For more information on Sharon Sant you can visit her website:, tweet her via @SharonSant or find her on facebook;

Jonathan Lee

Author of ‘The Radio’ Jonathan Lee has always said he would write a book. And now he has! He is currently working on his second novel ‘The Page’. He says he has been writing for just under 30 years.  

Jonathan says: 

Ah, the old question of workspace and whether it is possible to write anytime, anyplace, anywhere. I am sure there will be other contributors to this blog who will completely contradict my own strategy. If this is the case, then the only answer to this conundrum must be that each author needs to put together a workspace that is right for them.
All I need is the right type of keyboard and the right sized monitor and I’m away. If I ever go elsewhere to write the same keyboard has to travel with me. The keys and how they are spaced are second nature for me to hit them now, using any other keyboard ensures that I invariably hit the wrong keys due to their size or different spacing. 
The warmth of the room is paramount as well. Writing as I do, in a converted garage I have always had to plan my writing time as there was no heating. Therefore, the oil filled radiator has to be switched on an hour before I sat down to write. I am pleased to say that my first royalty cheque has paid for a radiator integrated with the rest of the house. 
I need silence. Preferably no other person in the house. I close the blinds and shut the door and then I am transported to wherever the characters are in my story. 
Create your own routine.  For me it is vital to block out chunks of time into my diary where I will sit down and write come what may. If you love to write make sure it takes the relactive equal importance with the other things in your life.

Let’s see a picture of Jonathan Lee’s workspace which he says “is an old wooden desk housed in a garage conversion.” 

To read Jonathan Lee’s diary of adventures from the moment of his debut ‘The Radio’ was released visit:”. 
What a fantastic first blog this has been. I sincerely hope you, as a reader, have learned something during your visit today. 

I do just want to add another huge thank you to partaking authors. It means so much to me as an amateur writer and avid blogger to have such a wonderful variety of authors helping me produce this blog. Please do use the sites provided to check out their individual websites and add their books to your reading lists. Also don’t be afraid to tweet them, they are all wonderful people. 

Please do leave comments below and if there is any area of writing you need help on please tell me and I, alongside my fantastic contributors, can hopefully help you with some tips :) 


  1. I love this idea! I will definitely be a follower of this blog. Thank you.

    1. You've most likely read it already but theres an article on writing i found very helpful... based on the snowflake method? i couldn't find the original but i gave this a read and its just as good.

    2. The 10 steps of design are wonderfully detailed!