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Friday, May 04, 2012

Top 5 'Must Haves' on a Writer's Desk

There’s a lot of interest about writer’s desks, like they’re some sort of holy shrine or something, especially those belonging to the big names. Stephen King is featured with his feet kicked up on his desk on the cover of his book, On Writing. I’ve even seen pictures of author’s desks pinned on Pinterest. Some are tidy. Most are not. 

Regardless, everyone wants a peek at a writer’s desk. And so I ask…what’s the big deal?!

Desks generally have four legs and a flat surface. There’s usually some kind of chair in front of them. Random office supplies are likely to be stationed on one corner or another. Scouring a picture of an author’s desk and then replicating it at your house isn’t going to make you a better writer.

Or is it?

I propose that there are some items wannabe writers could and should attain that reside on every successful author’s desk.

A Drawer Full of Humility
One of the great things about writing is that the possibilities for learning and growing in the craft are endless. Truly great authors realize they don’t know it all and continually polish their craft. And even the biggies get 1 star reviews, which tends to sag the ol’ pride sails in a quick-slap hurry.
Learn to be humble.

Perseverance Paperweights
Finishing manuscript after manuscript takes dogged determination. There’s not a whole lot of glamour in parking your behind in a chair and typing away for hours on end—but that’s what it takes. Toss your preconceived notions of effortless storytelling into the nearest dumpster. It’s work.
Learn to be persistent.

Compassion Dispensers
Isaac Asimov, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Harriet Beecher Stowe…these are just a few names of some of the superstars who took the time to mentor writers who weren’t as far along on the literary journey as themselves. No matter what stage of the game you’re at, there’s always someone who’s newer to the trade than you are—someone who could use a helping hand.
Learn to reach out.

Professionalism File Folders
No one likes a whiner. A diva. A perpetual eater of sour grapes. Most people don’t prefer cotton-headed-ninny-muggers, either. While it’s true that writing is a solitary pastime, when your work does begin to sell, you’ve got to be a team player. Communicating with agents and editors should always be with a respectful tone.
Learn to be accommodating.

3-Ring Binders Full of Patience
Whether you’re waiting to hear back from your first-ever query, or already have several books on the shelf, patience is indeed a virtue. And it’s not something that falls by the wayside even when you’re a NY Times bestseller. Even big names are waiting for royalty checks, sales figures, the next contract, etc.
Learn to be enduring.

If you’re missing any of those 5 ‘Must Haves’ on your desk, take a tip from this author…get them. It’s not about the physical décor, it’s the interior. Yours.

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas…professionally, however, for the past 10 years. Her latest release, UNDERCURRENT, is available by Risen Books. You can find her at: Writer Off the or on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.


  1. I agree, a writer must have those five things if they want to pursue a career as an author. Oh, BTW, my desk looks messy, somewhat cluttered, and not very amazing! :-)

  2. i loved your list of essentials! Cool way to express them. Actually those five things are needed for life, not just writers.

  3. Cecelia ~ I hear ya...I just happened to get a shot of my desk on a clean day.

    Marianne ~ Bingo! We DO need those attributes for life. Good catch.

  4. I wrote something in reply on a piece of paper, but then I lost it on my desk. It may be buried under the patience...should try to dig it out. It would have been easier to find if I'd put it under the perseverance...there's not as much of that.

    1. You know, Mr. Ehret, you really should hone your filing skills.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. I can't even comment correctly. :) I meant, "What is this strange word, 'filing'"?

  5. This is awesome! I'm printing it and sticking it on the bulletin board over my desk. As soon as I find the bulletin board over my desk. Great reminders, Michelle. Thank you.

    1. Sweet, Terrie! Most often my pieces end up in the circular file instead of on someone's bulletin board. I'm honored.

  6. Mike, your paper is burned under the chocolate wrappers. That's the one essential Michelle forgot. Chocolate - a writers incentive. If you allow yourself a piece for every so many words written, you'd be surprised at your output for the day. ;o)

    1. Hey, I just discovered the cool little reply button, so you're the first one I'm trying it out on. And it's not a piece of chocolate, dearest, it's a whole flippin' bar!

    2. I give myself a Hershey's Special Dark bar for every 10 words I write. I get one for this post! Two!

  7. Well put Michelle!! Love it :-)
    Yvette Carol

  8. Does the Perseverance "Paperweight" help your behind stay in the chair?? Also, I'm jealous that Terrie theoretically has a bulletin board over her desk. ;)


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