Where Writers Write: Steph Auteri

Welcome to this week’s installment of Where Writers Write, featuring freelance writing superstar Steph Auteri. I know Steph through the interwebs (which is a great way to meet fellow writers, btw!) and I closely follow her blog, Freelancedom for tips, tricks & musings on the freelance life. This week, she shares her writing space with us. If you’re interested in sharing yours, shoot me an email at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com!

Take it away, Steph!

I got ridiculously excited when Kristin mentioned she was starting a new blog series on people’s writing spaces. I mean: office porn! I love it!

Even though my space isn’t ideal, I wanted to participate, too. I mean, this is where I live. This is where I am almost all day. Every evening. And (I’ll admit it) on the weekends. Even if it isn’t ideal, it’s important to me.

When my husband and I were looking to buy a place, shortly after we got engaged, housing prices were sky-high. At the time, I was commuting into the city for a full-time job with an academic book publisher, so we couldn’t move far. Because of that, we couldn’t get a lot for our money. We ended up in a one-bedroom condo, and converted the small dining room space into an office for the two of us.

It has its faults. It opens up directly into the living room so, if one of us wants to watch TV while the other is working, that person has to wear headphones. It’s also the only room in the condo with space for our three cats’ two litter boxes. So it can get smelly. And there’s always litter underfoot. 

When we decided to put our condo on the market (we still haven’t sold, and it’s been two years; prices have dropped so low!), our realtor suggested we move out a lot of our furniture for staging purposes. So I had to go even more minimalist. I sort of loved putting the china cabinet in storage. It gave us more space. But at the same time, I also had to get rid of the large, oversize desk I’d had since college. After many, backbreaking months of working in bed, I eventually brought in my mother’s desk. It’s beautiful, but the drawers are much smaller, and there’s no shelving for extra storage.

Someday soon, we plan on buying a four-bedroom house, whether or not we can sell the condo. We plan on converting one of those bedrooms into my office. I dream of wall-to-wall bookshelves. A window seat. Plenty of storage. Space to roll out my yoga mat. Lots of color.

But for now, this is where I am.

1. What is your writing space like?
As mentioned above, I’m set up against one wall in what would otherwise have been a dining room. I use my mother’s antique desk, and an ergonomic chair I splurged on six months into full-time freelancedom, once I had matched my previous salary as an employee. The desk is small, but it’s forced me to choose my tools and resources with care. I actually keep my favorite how-to books in a drawer, including Kelly James-Enger’s Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks, Mike Nappa’s 77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected, Adair Lara’s Naked, Drunk, and Writing, and Lauren Bacon and Emira Mears’s The Boss of You. Oh! And of course my AP Stylebook. Another drawer contains nothing but magazines. I flip through them to make sure my magazine queries are on target.
I also keep a small om on my desktop, to remind myself that I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff… it’ll all work out. And of course, there’s always a mug of coffee.

I also hung a series of prints along the wall, to bring in some color. Even though it’s not the best space, I wanted to make it mine. These pictures include Andy Warhol’s “So Happy, ca. 1958” (because I’m a crazy cat lady) and a series of three drawings from my favorite city in the world: Boston.

2. Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?
Every day for me is different. In addition to working on my own book project, I also do freelance writing for print and online publications, ghostwriting, editing, and career coaching. Throw into the mix the occasional funeral singing gig, and a daily yoga practice, and anything can happen. I will say that writing goes smoother for me when the sun is shining, when the coffee is fresh, and when I’ve done up an outline first. 😉

3. What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space?
My desk used to live in my mother’s childhood bedroom. I love peppering my home with things from my family’s past and, even though this desk is smaller than my old one, it has a lot more character. My little om is also new. While I started exploring yoga casually about a year and a half ago, I didn’t really get serious about it until six months ago. Adding that om to my space reminds me that it can’t all be workworkwork. One needs balance as well.

4. If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?
I started daydreaming a bit above, but let me go a little crazy. My idea writing space would have:
– a door with a lock
– lots of natural light
– wall-to-wall shelving containing my own private library
– bay windows with a window seat… piled with pillows… for the best reading nook ever
– lots of color and personality and artwork on the walls
– lots of storage space
– and maybe enough floor space to roll out my yoga mat? (is that asking for too much?)

Steph Auteri is a freelance writer and editor, and the founder of Career Coaching for Word Nerds, through which she offers one-on-one coaching and consulting to freelance writers and other publishing professionals. She has been published in Nerve, The Frisky, Forbes, Business Insider, Time Out New York, and other bastions of fine writing. She also co-wrote an ebook with Ian Kerner — a noted sex counselor — called 52 Weeks of Amazing Sex. Her work is her life, but she can sometimes be found at the yoga studio, hoop dancing, cuddling her cats, or losing herself in a good book. Feel free to check out her website and blog, and to stalk her on Twitter.

 Thank you so much for sharing your writing space with us, Steph!

What do you guys think? Share your thoughts and your dream writing space in the comments!


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