Mini Muses: What’s On Your Writing Desk?

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” – Albert Einstein

Great question, Al! I don’t know many writers without somewhat cluttered desks. Mine’s cluttered and I don’t even have one, technically. My “desk” more often looks like this:


Or this:

**Potentially dangerous. Do not try this at home!**

**Potentially dangerous. Do not try this at home!**


August zoo

“Don’t bug me – I’m WRITING!”

I read a fun Writer’s Digest article recently on items various authors keep on their desks for inspiration. J.T. Ellison has a sign near hers that reads: There are no rules except those you create, page by page. The sage advice helped her complete her first novel. Gregory Frost keeps a coyote figurine nearby because he sees coyotes as analogous to wirters; both create but almost always at our own expense, he said, and almost always out of desire, without pondering the consequences. (Hmm… Interesting!)

It struck me as I read that while I don’t have a desk per say, I am inspired by keepsakes. I’m also prone to losing office essentials, like guitar picks and pens… So! I created a non-desktop on my piano. And I have to say, I am digging it! Here it is so far:

photo-105The quote is one of my favorites, and music is where I go when I’m lost for words or need clarity. My parents’ wedding photo reminds me of the familial love I’m continually grateful for. Like art, elephants remind me of all that’s beautiful in the world. Like writers, they’re precious, sensitive, intuitive creatures. The flower reminds me that beauty changes and crystalizes over time, but doesn’t die, and the pens—oh, the pens! I just love them.

I’d love to hear about your workspace. Do you have a writing desk? What objects inspire you? 

Leave a comment


  1. I don’t know how people write with a place to sit and a desk. I have pens, pencils, too many wires, Legacies (Paul F Wilson), macbook, mouse, keyboard, nook (on charge), backup disk, mug of tea (with british design on it, of course), a stack of PLM fo rsign/gift copies, cheap green notebook that has the plans for my past 3 books and will probably be full by the time current one’s finished, iphone (playing Counting Crows, Rain King – it’s raining her in TX), map of Paris, cinnamon raisin bagel, monitor (get an IPS one if you’re going to stare at it long enough to write a book), and a note that says “you have permission to write crap.” I used it all, esp the writing crap bit 🙂

    My husky shaped writing partner has been banished. She’s shedding enough to make a whole new dog at the moment!


    • LOL My last laptop stopped working because dog hair and bird dander had crept beneath the keyboard. I love all of your desk doodads. My favorite is probably a tossup between the bagel and that glorious saying. 🙂

  2. My huge desk went to Goodwill. Now, my writing space is a La-Z-Boy chair-and-a-half, my desktop is my lap. Light some incense, put on some R. Carlos Nakai flute music, and I’m all set to write, read, edit…whatever.

  3. My desk is a mess of papers, folders, my computer and printer, and sheet music. Directly to my right is a microphone and stand, and directly to the right of THAT is my keyboard. I guess my writing and music have sort of melded together into a tiny corner of creativity. 🙂 Also my computer screen usually has mini-post its on its edges reminding me of things to watch out for while I’m writing–like “don’t forget to make her sister forget her sooner!”

  4. I shovel out my office about twice a year. In between, both desk spaces (and the floor) get filled up. I’ve had to move some of my “schtuff” across the room to the “other” desktop area (for my photo stuff) because it’s less cluttered–and that’s where Maurice-the-Inspiration-Dragon (a felted sculpture) and a Pink Flamingo live, along with an awesome hand painted cat-woman-face ceramic vase/thingy. But the whole office is full…a Haitian drum-head-cuttout of a water Loah, stuffed rooster that thinks he’s a parrot (from a play I co-wrote), the first Afghan throw I ever got…from Westminster Dog Show…letter opener from Stratford-on-Avon England press trip, funky frogs from my co-writer (inside joke…) Just a lot of schtuff that means the world to me but makes no sense to others. *shrug* Oh, and the cat’s feeding station is on one end of the desk, too, so I get my kitty fix each time my feline furry muse gets the nibbles.

  5. I have two desks, a computer table and a credenza in my office, not to mention shelves and cabinets. At least I think that’s what’s under all these papers and other junk. No animal hairs, though. I’ll leave that to the rest of you.

  6. A lot of time, it’s my cup of coffee, tea or beer depending on the mood I’m in, my laptop and my headphones. I have removed most other papers (It’s the I.T. “must be paperless” part of my mind that demands this) and a view of something. Many times my writing desk is mobile, set up in a coffee house, a sports bar or some other place where I can people watch in between banging on the keyboard.

  7. Oh my desk. Um, well it’s a fabulous place where fantasy figurines sit next to crystal diamonds and pics of my family. When my daughter moved out, I invaded her room and made it my office (a fact of which she still hasn’t forgiven me). I bought myself a gorgeous desk and immediately filled with with doodads and whatnots. I LOVE it. It’s my creative space, my place of energy, mine. My window looks out on the backyard and all I can see are the green treetops and sky, unless I stand up, then I can see below to the yard. My desk is almost always messy, but I like it that way. I know where everything is and freak a little if someone comes in and moves anything. Now I just want to give my desk a big huge squeezy hug!

    • Sounds so totally you, Tameri! I love it. You’re the queen of funky doodads and figurines. Your window view sounds blissful…and amen regarding the beauty of messiness! Shows we’re having fun, I think. 🙂

  8. Catherine Johnson

     /  August 16, 2013

    It’s like you can read my mind, I was just thinking the other day we should have a desk blogfest. I love your piano top all those things are so beautiful! I have a snail and a ladybird and a bird that is really a garden ornament on my desk.

  9. My bed is my everything! Desk, laundry room (where the folding gets done), dining room, puzzle room and blogging room!! Oh yea, and happy endings room. 🙂

  10. Raani York

     /  August 16, 2013

    My desk in my office is often orphaned. (Unless it serves as a cat sleeping spot, as often seen in Jakes’ diaries. I do work there, yes. After finishing the first draft of my books.
    They are normally written on a regular paper note pad with cheap one-way pens normally in black ink.
    I often do sit outside, my butt on a chair, my legs on a stool, scribbling on my paper which is placed on my knees, next to me a can of diet coke.
    My desk is by far less inspiring than the pool and the often distracting squirrels or humming birds – nature is more inspiring than anything I could ever place on my desk.
    Of course, once that paper draft is written, I go back to my desk and work on the second draft by typing… but that doesn’t need much inspiration though.

  11. When we built our house, I put a desk in the corner of the Breakfast Room adjacent to the kitchen. I had this vision of soups simmering on the stove while I tippity-tapped my way to fame and fortune the end of many novels.

    I hate it. I’ve decided I have this hate/hate thing with sitting in a corner. Never mind that there are only two or three months out of the year conducive to simmering pots of soups and stews. I know I’d feel the same way if I designated a room as my “office.” An official office reminds me too much of Corporate America, and I fear I’d begin to schedule regular Monday morning staff meetings (*gag*), delegate committees to audit my expense reports (*shoot me now*), and require annual performance reviews (*gasp*).

    My desk is portable. It often finds itself at MY TABLE at Starbucks. This morning, it was in a recliner outside with coffee. There are days I need a Red Flyer wagon to tote the bags of notes and reference materials I’ve collected. I’m a mess. My desk is a mess. Right now? It’s a lap-desk thingie (<==== highly technical term), laptop, and leather recliner.

    My dream office will one day materialize in the form of a Mini Winnie. So. Excited!

    Great pictures, August!

  12. I have a desk, but the chair I work in is in the corner of my office. I have a lot of keepsake types of things in my office and on my desk. Every little thing has some kind of meaning. My window shade says “wishes”. But my desk is currently covered with a little too much paper. I guess that says something too…cleaning is not exactly my priority right now?? 🙂

  13. I have a cluttered, ordinary writing desk with an old desktop computer. The dog and cat like to lounge on the floor next to me as I work. But I do just as much “writing” while I’m washing dishes, or driving Mom’s Taxi, or folding laundry.

  14. Hehe, I love your pens. Pens themselves are almost porn to writers, aren’t they?

    My desk is awful – it’s not even really a desk. It’s improvised from an old electronic keyboard (piano) stand, with the old top of a computer desk (the computer desk fell apart in a move, and we haven’t had the funds to replace it yet). The plus? I can adjust the height of the thing, thanks to the keyboard stand!

    For inspiration, though, I have my pen-holders, which are actually old tea tins that I re-purposed. They still show what types of tea they held, and they always make me smile. I also have a small print that I need to get matted. It’s a fairy, surrounded by iridescent bubbles, with the caption “A Wee Bit O Magic”. I picked it up at the local renaissance faire a few years ago at an artist’s booth, because when I found it it just made me think of how, when I write and bring characters to life, I’m working my own bit of magic.

  15. My desk is still a work in progress. I need to figure out a better way to keep things so my writing and computer space are less cluttered. Wish I had a magic wand that could make it look beautiful and still have all my things nearby.

  16. Hi August! You know, I actually do have a writing desk. Hubby bought one for me a couple of years ago and I love it. I do like to keep it neat. I get a little crazy when things get too out of order. I do have notes and a stack of craft books. It faces the window, so I do get to take a mental break to stir the senses. It works for me. But you look comfy. I like the way you work girl. Very productive indeed! Have a great weekend! 🙂

  17. Kate is

     /  August 16, 2013

    I have two. I have one for work, and one for writing. Recent research has suggested the most cluttered the work area, the more creative the person. OH dear. I am utterly organise.

  18. My desk if full of notebooks that are full of poems and 5 new books of poems being edited, and almost ready to go very soon…. A very engrossing post that almost everyone can relate to! Have a wonderful and blessed weekend August!

  19. laurie27wsmith

     /  August 17, 2013

    To the tune of ‘My favourite things.’
    My Writing room.
    Stuff on the top shelf that threatens to topple,
    a toy Roman soldier whose head does a bobble,
    covers of books that I’ve written on Death,
    and I’ll keep writing until my last breath.

    Revolvers and pistols, bayonets and knives
    the stuff that you need when taking those lives.
    Badges and buttons, toy cars and rings,
    these are a few of my favourite things.

    Books that I’m reading and books that I’ve read,
    manuals and maps, if they fell I’d be dead.
    Toy tanks and soldiers, and a medieval knight
    and a bendy old metal – office desk light.

    When the muse hits,
    When the storm breaks
    and I’m ready to write.
    I’ll grab a coffee and handful of cakes
    then I’ll plug away – all night.

    • A handful of cakes?? LOL Best comment serenade ever! And this blog’s first. 🙂

      • laurie27wsmith

         /  August 20, 2013

        Well when I settle in to doing something like writing I need the *nourishment* you know. Your first serenade eh? I’m touched, no not like that. I sometimes burst into song and change lyrics around, usually tacky ones. It’s probably just as well I didn’t do it on the girl boner section. I could have waxed poetic about many favourite things there. 🙂

  20. Growing up I had a picture of a flying birds by my desk, was supposed to motivate me soar higher in my career. In a way that kind of worked because after completing education I flew at an altitude of 40000ft (much higher than the birds in the picture) and half way across the globe!! 🙂
    My son has a image of Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge) and I hope that works out too.
    I now share a desk with my wife and she has put a figurine of laughing fat old man (an oriental good luck charm), she claims it (or he) generates positive energy, well not sure about that I get distracted & at times intimidated by that!! 🙂

  21. I have an Albert Einstein action figure, still in the box, leaning against a retired police detective’s badge. I dare anyone to show more diametrically opposed objects than that! (A defense attorney gave me the Einstein figure after he lost a bet that his client would be acquitted in a murder case. I’ve led a weird life.)

  22. I have a dedicated writing room. My desk is a bit crowded because we’ve been having earthquakes, so I’ve moved stuff on to it that might otherwise fall. I’ve got a hygrometer, a 1/24 model of a Gemini spacecraft I built years ago, a lamp, the computer, and some 1/76 vehicles. Plus space to spread papers. Under the desk (where I can’t kick it) is where my vintage Moog synthesiser lurks; also out of kick range, my big Roland poly synth; and on a drawer set just behind it, my vintage Korg. Betraying, perhaps, a preference to be a musician; but the reality is that my instruments spend most of the time gathering dust, while I write..

    • Their nearness means something, I imagine. My instruments were growing dusty, too! Finally have been managing to blend it into my writing life, if sporadically.

      Your office seems lively! Hope it remains heavy-quake-free.

  23. My empty Writer’s Tears box, all my writer peeps’ books, Godzilla, and a gator head. True.

  24. I have two small figurines of Roman scribes holding quills and parchments in my bedroom(not on my writing desk, that’s waaaay too cluttered! 😉 ).
    I bought them to remind me how diligent and hard-working those medieval and ancient scribes were. We’re lucky, we have computers now. Those guys used to write hundreds of pages a day BY HAND. With a quill.
    I’d like to think those figurines inspire me although I’m still one of the laziest people/writers I know! 😛

  1. Why Haven’t I Been Writing | the daily creative writer

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: