Shaking Things Up

Within days of finishing the rough draft of a book, I always rearrange my office. I’m not sure if it’s a seasonal thing and only coincidental, or a ritual I’ve fallen into like putting lighter covers on the beds in spring, or cleaning the silver before Thanksgiving.

I totally rearrange my office at the beginning of each spring and fall. Two books a year. That’s my norm.  While I rearrange, and work myself into a two or three day frenzy of cleaning, window washing, and dusting of skirting boards, it seems I’m also doing some heavy thinking about the next book to be written. Meanwhile, the rough draft does a simmer.  I enter the discovery stage of the new project, and then I put that aside to do a rewrite of the rough draft. It’s a plan that has worked well for me for quite a few years.

The fun cave.

The fun cave.

Back to my office rearrangements, the sun hits on the front windows in the hot desert summer months.  I’m subjected to writing with the blinds closed for at least half of the day. If I put the desk against the cooler interior wall my back is to the entrance, and that’s bad feng shui. Who wants to draw negativity into the writing place? Not me! So, I follow the shade. Generally, during the summer the desk is nearest the window that opens onto the path that leads to the front door. It stays shady until late afternoon. And that aspect is considered positive. In the winter months I position the desk in front of the middle window overlooking the street. Again, that is another positive position, and I capture the warmth of the winter sun.

Something strange happened this year. My current book is still a work in progress. Still! This book refuses to be finished. The writing of it keeps getting interrupted. Somedays I feel like I’m drowning in edits, galleys, promo and marketing of other books, and life. Part of me hates this book. But when I do get a small amount of writing time and go back to the manuscript, I end up loving it again. This is the longest time I’ve ever taken to finish a rough draft. By my calculations, this one should have been finished in rough draft at the beginning of spring.  MP900439466[1]

Would you believe, right on schedule, I rearranged my office at the beginning of October? However, everything felt wrong, even though I had finally been able to get my head above water and could see that I had a six week window to get some work done. I could not settle into the writing at all. I couldn’t figure out if this meant I should scrap the fifty thousand words written and start something new, or continue on with the WIP. This weekend, I put the desk back into the summer position. The rule, a new one just imposed, is that it must remain like that until the damn book is finished. Guess who is writing again?

What about you? Do you have seasonal rituals that surround housework, like spring cleaning, pre-holiday cleaning? If you’re a writer, does the arrangement of your office always have to remain the same? Do you like to rearrange the furniture just to shake things up a bit?



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23 Responses to Shaking Things Up

  1. Hi Robena
    First off…I love how easy it is to post a comment here! It’s easy as pie.
    And for me, I don’t like change too much. My office remains the same, except now that I’m busier, it’s much more disorganized. I have papers laying about, stuff on the sofa, files on my bookshelf. To me, it’s messy, but i don’t have time to stop to organize everything. I’m hoping the master organizer in the house, my hubby, will help me with it someday. But for now, my office, as much as I love it, remains the same. Great post. You inspire me to clean…almost!

    • robena grant says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Charlene. Sounds like you need that familiarity of knowing exactly where everything is. Wish I had a big enough office for a couch. But then again, I’d probably just sprawl out and read. ; )

  2. Deborah Blake says:

    I can’t really change my office, since it is a small room with a partially open plan (the dining room, which has a half-wall that looks into the living room), although I am seriously considering getting a new desk and redoing it that way. (I think maybe it just needs a serious clean and neaten.0

    But I do always do a major “fall clean”–getting ready to be stuck in the house all winter, I think, and clearing out the energy for that.

    • robena grant says:

      Hi, Deb. Thanks for dropping in. Hope all is going well for you and your writing. I know what you mean about a small office. That’s what I have. Not too many options…but then again, not too many places to leave messy. : )

  3. Janie Emaus says:

    My office in a perpetual state of disorganized organization. I could use your help!

  4. I’ve never changed my desk position since the day my husband put the behemoth together for me. It is large and unwieldly. I face the only window in the room which looks out front. Unfortunately, my back is to the door, but I can’t imagine rearranging my desk to have me face a wall while I write. I love looking out the front window when I need to think things through in my WIP.

    No rituals for me, I’m afraid. I clean when I have to. LOL

  5. robena grant says:

    I know, Lynne. An office with a window. It’s as important to a writer as a room of her own. Ha ha.

  6. Sam Beck says:

    Hi Robena,

    I rearranged my “office” (which is a little built-in cabinet in my living room) yesterday! Cleared out all the old mail and other paperwork that had accumulated and got everything back into ship-shape. And yep, I did feel more productive today! 😉

  7. I pretty much leave everything the same until I move out! Then I set up again in the new locale, so that can be once a year or once in 20+ years, as far as rearranging…I just really block everything out when I’m writing. I keep the same mountain landscape painting above the desk wherever I am though. Really enjoyed the blog post!

  8. robena grant says:

    Ah, there’s a ritual then, Veronica. You must have your lucky mountain landscape. ; )

  9. Great topic, Robena!

    New Year’s Day is the day when my office usually gets shifted around. At least, that used to be true. Since I put my treadmill and treadmill desk in AND a sit-down desk. There really isn’t much furniture moving I can do to shake things up.

    If I cleaned off my desk top, cleaned off the treadmill desk, and cleaned out the bookshelves, my office would look totally different! And my husband would probably keel over.

    I’ve been struggling with my latest WIP as well. However, I should be done with my very rough first draft this week. And although it’s not New Year’s Day, guess what room in the house is going to get spruced up?

  10. Susanne says:

    Hi there,

    I find if things aren’t neat and orderly, my thoughts aren’t neat and orderly, and I’m just not productive. It’s like too “stuff” stops me in my tracks. Right now I’m drowning in stuff (small home so everything jumps out at me). Time to shift into clean up mode. The thing is, it doesn’t take much time. Hah!

  11. robena grant says:

    I’m like you too, Susanne. I really don’t like clutter. It’s like part of my writing energy goes to glances at the mess and random thoughts of how I must take the time to clean or organize, and then I can’t dig deeply into the writing.

  12. londonmabel says:

    I rearrange my room once in awhile, but not ritually. 😉 All the bookshelves make it hard to do too much.

    But if I’ve been away from my desk for awhile, I do do a big cleanup, dusting, organizing, washing, setting out the candles and research books-ing.

    Good luck with your WIP!

  13. Julie says:

    Wait, what? Cleaning? I’ve might have heard of this thing……….

    (Hee hee, I’m THINKING of doing some tidying, does that count?)

  14. I tend to reorganize when I start to feel stagnant. Like now. Doing a major 3 room reorg. In fact, I’m exhausted and I still have another days work.

  15. robena grant says:

    Hey, Judy. Good to hear from you. Sometimes I rearrange things just because I’m bored, so yeah, maybe it’s a way to shake off stagnation. : ) Hope your major reorg goes well.