Where Writers Write: Tiffany Clarke Harrison

This week’s post comes to us from Tiffany Clarke Harrison, a copywriting fiction-lover. If you’d love to share your rockin’ writing space with us, shoot me an email at KristinOffilerwrites@gmail.com or holler at me on Twitter.

Fiction is my first love.  We’re in a seriously committed relationship only rivaled by my marriage.  Luckily, neither my husband nor my words are the jealous type.

I also rock web copy for creative women entrepreneurs, helping them celebrate their delicious talents with content that doesn’t bore readers to death.  People can’t hire you if they’re dead, right?  Totally.

My writing space is the 4×3 corner of my bedroom that inhabits the simplest Ikea desk and a glorious garage sale find of a weathered, farmhouse chair.  It is the one spot of my room where unfolded laundry is not permitted, and layers of hot pink, green, Coldplay lyrics and house music are encouraged.
Or, at times, a blank surface and silence water my words with the greatest inspiration-it gives them room to breathe and come alive on the page.

What is your writing space like?

 It is uniquely me, depending on what I need that day. If I need a burst of color or a particular sound to help set the tone for my work that day, I add it.  If not, I take it away.  It is uncluttered; a space where I can keep my mind on my work and not fiddle with, say, bills sitting on the corner of my desk.  My go to inspiration books and creative cues are always around (e.g. After You’d Goneand The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao) and help me through the rough spots.

Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?

I keep a writing routine for work-I generally write on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday mornings and edit on those evenings.  My fiction happens when it happens.  (I wish it happened more often.)  I plan on carving out time twice a week for it as well.

What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space?

It’s mine!  I’m reading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and was so inspired to claim a space to write and make it mine.  My home is small and this corner of my bedroom by the window is just perfect.  The scenery is lovely year round.

If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?

I actually have 2 ideal spaces.  The first is so cliché, but Diane Keaton’s home in the movie Something’s Gotta Give.  A place on a quiet beach, lots of windows and light.  It’s perfect.  The second is probably equally cliché: a small apartment in New York City full of the eclectic industrial vibe.  There’s just so much to draw from creatively in that city.

Tiffany Clarke Harrison is a purveyor of prose and web copy rocker at blahcubed.org. She believes that ladies rock this world with soul-shifting vision, and delicious talents that seduce your face off, and writes to help aspiring women entrepreneurs turn creative hobbies into creative businesses with fun and engaging web content. You can connect with Tiffany on Twitter: @blah_cubed.

Where Writers Write: Olivia Bowen

This week’s post comes to us from brand and copy editor, Olivia Bowen, a super-talented writer I was lucky enough to meet via Twitter (where else, right?). If you have a writing space you’d love to share with us, shoot me an email at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

 While writing is certainly part of my work, I actually do more editing for clients, which I love. A rather unsuccessful college creative writing class helped me realize that making up stories is not where my talent lies; I am, however, skilled at helping others refine their ideas and expression so that what ends up on the screen or on the page is exactly what the author had in mind—only even clearer and with more sizzle.

As an editor who writes, my space needs to be part resource center, part inspiration hub, and comfortable enough so I can be there for hours on end, but not so comfy that I forget I have work to do. Here’s what I’ve come up with to meet those needs.

What is your writing space like?

I work from home, so I was able to create a writing and editing space that meets my specific needs. My husband recently helped me revamp the office to be more ergonomic—with all the time I spend working at my desk, having a setup that’s kind to my back and neck was a priority.

Because working with language is such a synthesis of heart and mind, I’ve filled my office with objects and resources that speak to both. I’m a sucker for reference books and probably have more volumes on grammar than many classrooms do, but I also keep more spiritual touchstones at hand: a framed picture I took of a Buddha statue in Tokyo, a daruma doll that reminds me to have patience but stay focused on my goals, photos of my family, and a vase crafted by a talented Philly-based potter that I fill with flowers or herbs whenever I can.

Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?

I’ve tried to establish a routine in the past, but finally accepted that one of the things I like most about working for myself is having the freedom to write and edit when the mood (or deadline) strikes. A typical day starts around 9:30, but I don’t really “warm up” until at least 11. Editing projects require me to be really sharp, so I try to work on those from between 11 a.m. until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

Then I’ll take a long break and go to yoga, make dinner, or just give my brain a rest and watch some Law & Order. I’ll usually get back to my computer for writing projects around 8 or 9, when my creativity peaks, and will work until around midnight if the words are flowing.

What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space?

Before I decided on a language-based career, I strongly considered a PhD in art history. Now the art is pure passion, so my office has some gorgeous original artwork and prints. A dear friend recently painted an East of Eden-inspired piece for me (two, actually, but only one is in my office); my aunt created a rich watercolor as a wedding gift; I have a print of Lucca (an enchanting Tuscan town about which my dad is a leading expert) that was also a wedding gift; and a framed print of the Pantheon, my favorite building in the world, that I got when I was studying in Rome.

If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?

It would look an awful lot like mine right now—but with a view of the Eiffel Tower, more bookshelves, and a really cozy reading chair. I’ve deliberately created a location-independent business, so I hope that in a few years my husband and I can relocate to Paris for a year or two. I imagine that walks along the Seine, easy access to macarons, weekend trips to Bordeaux, and the spirits of the artists who’ve worked in the city over the centuries could only help my craft, right?

Olivia Bowen is a brand and copy editor. She runs Olivia Bowen Communications, which focuses on helping holistic and creative entrepreneurs refine the language for their web presence—from crafting irresistible bios to proofreading websites to make sure they’re flawless. A nomad at heart, she and her novelist/educator husband live in San Diego—for now. You can connect with her on Twitter @LivBowen or join the community of logophiles and entrepreneurs on Facebook.

Where Writers Write: Lindsay Oberst

This week’s Where Writers Write on The White Space features freelancer Lindsay Oberst’s writing space. Lindsay is a writer I met through Twitter, and I’m glad she’s sharing her space with us this week! If you’re interested in sharing yours, shoot me an email at kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com. And now, Lindsay!

Words are my everyday companions, so I’m glad Kristin started this dialogue about the physical places where words get written. It will be interesting to get a peek into the lives of other writers. I’m hoping Kristin will show hers too. (I will, Lindsay!)

Since you probably don’t know who I am, my name is Lindsay Oberst, and I’m a freelance writer, journalist and editor who also writes creatively. I work part-time at a center for sustainable journalism in its digital media department and freelance the rest of the time as a writer and editor, specifically related to creative, sustainable and cultural subjects. When I’m not writing to pay my bills, I often write poetry, short stories or portions of my novel-in-progress, which is about a lonely, college-aged artist with a unique power who realizes she isn’t entirely of this earth after she decides to attend her first music festival.

Above all, I love words and am currently reviving my website for writers called Word Zeal (http://wordzeal.com) which strives to be an online resource for word lovers who want to survive .

My answers to Kristin’s questions:

What is your writing space like? 

I live in a small apartment in the middle of Atlanta, so I don’t have enough space to have an area only for writing. However, my love of writing spills itself throughout my rooms in the form of books, magazines and other bits of paper with words on them. When I look around at all the words, I am inspired to write my own.

I usually write in one of two places in my living room: on a small table covered in colorful Indian fabric next to my turquoise futon or standing up with my laptop on top of my bright blue bookshelf. I don’t have a desk or a bigger table. When I’m working from home (and not opting to work from a nearby coffee shop, which I often do), I usually stand up while I use my laptop. When I’m writing longer pieces, or writing creatively, I sit down and type instead. I also have plenty of paper and notebooks laying around for when I want to write by hand.

While I’m writing during the day, I like opening my blinds a few inches to let in enough light to warm the place without tempting me to go outside. But my favorite time to write is at night when I often can’t sleep because my head spins with endless ideas.

Do you keep a writing routine? If so, what is your routine?

One thing I’m working on this year is making better routines for myself, so my answer will be different soon. I believe that routines can make getting things accomplished much easier, and I want to be a more successful freelancer, write my novel and get more of my fiction published this year. I’m making plans so that I can get these things done. Right now, I work in an office three days a week and work from home the other two days of the week. I make myself write creatively for at least an hour each day. On the weekends, I try not to use the Internet at all, including social media, even though I’m an avid user on other days. Disconnecting from technology for a day or two is hugely helpful and gives me more time to write (if I do write on my computer, though, I use a Word document or another program without opening a web browser.)

What’s something unique and interesting about your writing space?

The fact that I write often while standing up is unlike most people. I enjoy standing because it gives me the freedom to move. I even stand whenever I’m at a bar, although I’m short so people often don’t notice. Sitting down all day is not good for our bodies and if I had the money for a standing desk—they cost at least $500 from what I’ve seen—I’d definitely get one. The idea of working while standing is weird to some people but I enjoy it and it makes me feel better than if I sit all day long. One of the coffee shops I frequent has high tables which also allow me to stand while working. I encourage people to try it out, even if they only stand for a few hours a day or one day per week.

If you could have any writing space in the world, what would it look like and why?

I love this questions, and I haven’t actually thought about this for a while, so this one will be fun to answer. I’d like a room of my own (as Virginia Woolf might say) entirely devoted to writing and books. I’d like to have bookshelves filled with books, soy candles and other colorful creative objects. Underneath a big window with a view of a mountain river, I’d like a ergonomic sitting/standing desk. On the walls, I’d post some of my favorite quotes and would have one entire wall that would allow me to write on it and erase as needed. I’d like to surround myself with words in an organized and colorful way. And I’d like to be able to also go sit nearby the river outside my window and write without the noise pollution of a city when I wanted to.

Thanks again to Kristin for letting me talk about my writing space on her blog. I wonder if any other writers write while standing up?

Lindsay Oberst is a freelance writer/editor, journalist and creative writer who specializes in art, culture, design, digital media, sustainability and social good. Join me on Twitter @LindsayOWrite (or @LindsayOAtlanta). I’m also friends with a good number of writers on Google Plus, although I don’t use it often.

Thank you for sharing your writing space with us, Lindsay! 

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

How To Create Writing Opportunities

What are you waiting for?? Get typing & send out those ideas!

Pull up a chair, I want to tell you a story about how I created one of the best writing opportunities for myself using the most ridiculously easy methods known to man. It’s not a huge secret, and it’s something you can do as soon as you finish this post. No, I mean it; as soon as you’re done reading this, you can go create some great opportunities by doing one little thing: asking.

That’s it. Magical and mysterious, right? Not really.

Being a freelance writer means you’re always looking for new work. Believe me, I’ve spent plenty of time reading job boards and replying to posts with a million other writers. It’s no wonder why I hardly ever hear back. So why not ask someone for an opportunity instead of waiting for it to fall into your lap?

Back in December I wrote a piece for MoxyMag.com about what I wish I had known before buying a house. It was my first piece for the mag and I was excited about it. Moxy tweeted it, I tweeted it– it was all good. Then out of nowhere, LendingTree.com retweeted my article. I stared at the computer screen for a few minutes trying to believe that a big company had just found my article and retweeted it. But there it was in front of me! The opening for an opportunity.

I was familiar with LendingTree.com but I had never read their blog before. I headed over and browsed through and had a great idea for a blog series. Since they liked my article for Moxy, I figured I could pitch the blog idea and see what happened.

I had nothing to lose and was expecting a, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

That’s the key. Understand that when you pitch an idea, you have nothing to lose.  If you let fear prevent you from even trying, you will never know if your pitch could have been received with open arms.

I sent off an email to a contact on the LendingTree site and mentioned that my article had been retweeted, that I was really excited about it, and that I had a great idea for a blog that would be perfect for them. I was asking for an opportunity that otherwise might not have manifested itself in this way. You know what they said? They loved the idea and had been thinking about doing a series like my pitch, but hadn’t yet. I fleshed out ideas with Anna, their social media director (and the wonderful woman who retweeted my article), and the blog will be up next month.

I can’t wait to share it and get feedback. The blog takes you through our home buying process with stories from the trenches, while providing useful tips along the way. We certainly had some struggles finding a house, closing, and then dealing with our seller all while preparing for a wedding, so hopefully our shenanigans will be useful to other buyers.

The main point: If you have a great idea and you want to write, just ask for the opportunity. Pitch your idea and make sure you’re passionate about it. You won’t always get the job you’re seeking, but you will give yourself a better chance of succeeding at freelancing if you’re willing to put yourself out there. I believe better/more rewarding writing work is the work you create and pitch. The job boards may have some decent opportunities, but you’ll stand out from the crowd a bit more when you ignore your hesitations and push forward with a great idea.