A place for writing inspiration

Most boring blog photo ever

Great writing spaces

I read two blogs on the same day, within the same hour. I think the universe is trying to tell me something about my abysmal writing space.

Poet and songstress Laura LME on J.J. Brown’s blog. Laura writes at a cherry table that has been in the family for over 40 years and was once a part of her father’s studio. The table speaks to Laura – of powerful family memories and children’s laughter.

Author p.m. terrell often writes in a living room amongst bright pastel walls under the watchful eyes of her angel fish. From the desk in her office, she can see crepe myrtles, tea tree plants, gardenias, and rose bushes.

My view

Inside, the bland walls of my still-temporary housing surround me with virtually no color (except for my Phillies throw and a small collage). I am not allowed to put holes in the walls; tape won’t stick with anything heavier than a sticky note.

In front of me is a small window that looks out onto a rutted dirt and torn-up-asphalt road often full of construction and moving vehicles (trailers in, trailers out). The lawns I see are brown or weedy, some with heaps of churned up earth.

Around many of these temporary trailers are forlorn collections of personal items in a mish-mash of piles. Many temporary residents have taken to using loading-dock pallets to create walkways to combat the mud.

No wonder I’m not inspired!

A bright spot

Artist Angie Ledbetter sent me a hand-made collage last November. It’s the only bright spot in the place. It’s propped up on my fire extinguisher bracket.

Maybe I can use the cheesy crown molding

Perhaps I can use the cheesy crown molding to tack up some posters or hunks of brightly-colored material.

Any other ideas?


Do you find inspiration in your home office, living room, or kitchen? Do you have a special desk or an item on your desk that provides inspiration? Do you go outside the home to find inspiration? What colors do you find inspirational?


Karen S. Elliott was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday NYT crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.

Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer, and a fabulous grandmother. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, literary, historical, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA and University of New Mexico, and was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her writing has been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.


Filed under Blogging, Editing & Proofreading, Personal Articles, Social Networking

32 responses to “A place for writing inspiration

  1. Karen, I still follow your blog–every post–and gain much from your experience and insight. Happy trails!

    • Oh my, you need knick knacks, lots of them! Or not! I would have a field day adorning all that space of yours with “things”. There is not a square inch on our walls or table-tops that do not have somehting on them (a slight exaggeration) but that is what my husband says. I’m inspired by all of it. It’s our life, our family, our vacations, our stay-cations, momentos from everyplace and from everybody from floor to ceiling, refrigerator to window-sills. Outside it’s plants and cool figurines. My daughter-in-law once said that soon I’d be placing figurines in the neighbors yards! lol! It’s, well, pathetic, but inspiring and believe it or not, tidy.

      • I do not have any shelves – ack! I need to work on finding some little thing that will fit on this desk. My space is severely limited. Everything is shoved into an enth of a degree. I need to get some bookshelves, yes.

    • Thanks, Ray! Speaking of trails, where have you been galavanting lately?

  2. Karen, I do think the universe is trying to tell you something! You can find beauty and inspiration in many forms and sizes.

    How about changing the desktop image on your computer? While writing The Tempest Murders, a manuscript I recently finished, I changed my desktop image to a scene in Ireland upon which two lovers embraced. The image I saw each day inspired scenes in my book–both Ireland and romance were central themes. Nice things about changing the desktop are: it’s free and you can do it as often as you’d like.

    A rose in a tiny vase… a splash of color… a seashell… so many things can be picked up at your local dollar store. I am a firm believer in color therapy.

    Or how about printing out beautiful landscapes you find on your computer and hanging them on the walls with the double-sided tape that’s made for walls?

    I’ll be anxiously awaiting pictures of your new inspired surroundings!

    • Changing the desktop is a great idea! I definitely need some color. I should start printing images and paper my walls (hopefully when I remove them, I won’t be ripping off the wall!). Even if I put a few smaller pictures on one 8.5×11, I could cut and tape.

  3. Get some poster putty. It’s available everywhere and for college dorms made of concrete; but sticks to walls, doors, and just about everything else without leaving residue or putting holes. INSPIRE your space and dream a little…

  4. Funny, sometimes I wish fo a little less in my environment. (right now a few less cats draped over my computer would help 🙂 )–Yes, great idea, the poster putty or those Command wall hangers. They are amazingly sturdy.
    How about a white board you can draw on and change at will?

    • Cats – ha! No worries there, I’m allergic. I have not tried the Command – the ads seem to promote flat walls, and my walls are not that. White board is a good idea. With lots of brightly colored markers. Yeah!

      • Awww, allergic to little ones! 😦
        They need to develop a hypoallergenic feline! (I bet Carter would fit the bill–he’s too pixilated to be an ordinary kitty.)
        I hadn’t used the Command things until we redid the kitchen and I didn’t want to spoil the nice clean walls. So far so good.

  5. Tension rods are an idea. You can hang curtains, but you can also hang artwork from them using fishing line. It may have to be “light” artwork (no heavy frames) but if you had some posters or prints you could frame them with mat board and a foam core backing and hang them. You could also put two tension rods vertically from floor to ceiling, drill holes in them, run fishing line between the rods and hang pictures on the line. You’d have to use a heavy weight fishing line.
    No matter what, I think your work is fabulous.

  6. Music and smells that bring back happy memories are another great addition to a creative space. I write at a desk tucked against a wall in our tiny living room. I typically have four kids running around in a small space(and this heat means I can’t throw the older ones out) so I light a candle or throw a tart in my burner, plug in my iPod, and voila, I have at least a sense of creative space. In additon, I have a few talismans no one’s allowed to touch- a funny cow my oldest made for me and a postcard from Paris. 🙂

    • I use music once in a while. I have a wax burner – I should use that more often. Postcards would be nice, and would probably stick to the wall with some tape. Start sending those postcards!

  7. I’m so honored to have made a little white spot in your temporary housing. What about really lightweight fabric (even flat sheets or shower curtain material) tacked into the molding? When you get your new home, those items can be repurposed. xo

    • And thank you, Angie. Your artwork is really the only bright spot in this place! I was thinking about that fabric thing – even some scraps, tacked to the molding, would add some much needed color. And yes, be used again later. I just had another thought – to use some string lights – in bright colors. I could probably tack them to the molding as well.

  8. I have a few small statues that help me, and a few hand painted tankas from Tibet, and photos of family long gone in small antique frames, and a few photos of my girls – these little things around me say “home” over many, many moves. And walks in gardens, however small or urban, do it for me too – the beauty of nature gives a hope and a happiness that lets the heart reopen in unfamiliar places.

    • Many of my saved belongings (from the flood) are still in my son’s garage. I need to dig them out, I think! Much of the landscape of Minot was washed away in last year’s flood. It’s taking some time to rebuild. Though driving along sunflower and canola fields can be awe-inspiring. I need to carry my good camera to get some photos.

  9. You can get some of those little magnetic things they use to stick onto refrigerators and stick them on the sides of the computer. Gives some colour. Or how about a nice table cloth? It will the first thing you see when you sit down at your table. If your table is too small for a table cloth then get a table mat. That will work just as well. But make sure its colourful.

  10. Love it that as I read the comments, I ticked off all the ideas I’d had 🙂

    Karen, email me your address and you may just find a postcard or two headed your way 😉 xo

  11. Angie is BRILLIANT – and my bestie 😀 I have a collage box that she made where I put special things *smiling*

    You know I have the best view to write by – my room is small here – with books surrounding me on all walls and soft throws and a furry rug and things I love and rocks and such and the window view is the smoky mountains. I sometimes “set” on the porch to write – usually when I’m revising.

    I am lucky.

  12. PS – can you buy throw rugs and pillows and throw thingees to fling around? I love doing things like that – different textures and such – either adding color or whatever!

  13. What a great conversation and wonderful ideas!

    I went on a decluttering rampage awhile back and found that getting rid of stuff was more important than bringing stuff in. But…since your space is fairly bare, consider:
    • A plant or two — the hardy kind that don’t need much care and are tolerant with your light conditions. Live plants improve the air quality and help you create a cozier feel. A large one makes more of an impact, but of course you have to work with your space. If you’re so inclined, you can even talk to your plants, but don’t forget to listen to their answers!

    • A room divider to use as a palette for anything from pictures to textiles (scarves, fabric swatches you love, etc.) to lightweight ornaments. Second hand shops can be great sources for such things. Or Craig’s list?

    • Is there any kind of ceiling fixture from which you can hang a mobile, dream catcher, or other hanging art that calls to you?

    • There are suction hangers you can add to your window, but don’t put anything on them that would break if it fell off. I find the suction releases from time to time.

    • What about a window box OUTSIDE your window?

    Keep us posted!

    • Room divider is an excellent idea. Ceiling fixtures – vents might work for light-weight hanging things. And things for my windows – I know there are flexible rubbery things that self-stick – I’ll have to look for those. And a window box! All great ideas, Elizabeth, thank you!

  14. Nature is a fantastic inspiration for me…Music is another.
    Someone told me once “play the music your characters like when you write” It really helped!

  15. Denise – this note is wonderful! Not all our characters like the same music I like! So true!

  16. Pingback: Add bling and panache to your writing space | Karen S. Elliott's Blog

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