December 27th, 2019

Does Your Workspace Affect Your Writing?

by Ellen Buikema

Does where you work affect your writing? As you’ve seen from my earlier posts, it really affects mine. I believe it is related to energy.

Everything is made of energy which vibrates to different frequencies. Ask a quantum physicist. She will tell you that atoms, the building blocks of the universe, are made up of energy vortexes that spin and vibrate to their own frequency signature.

Let’s narrow this down to something closer to home, that we can actually control.

Have you ever walked into a home and felt comfortable right away? Or, couldn’t wait to get out because something was driving you crazy? These feelings, which we sense to different degrees, are related to the energy of the location as well as the individuals occupying the space.

Why do I need good energy flow? I am a very sensitive person and the feel of a room makes a big difference for me. If I am at ease I write very well. Otherwise, I have a difficult time concentrating. I’ll give you a personal example of feeling negative energy in a room.

Many years ago, while traveling in Southern California, we visited the Mission San Juan Capistrano. The grounds and main structures are beautiful, but I a felt extremely uneasy about entering the church. It was a gut clenching, heart squeezing thing.

I talked myself into joining the line of people filing inside and the feelings of dread continued but didn’t intensify. Parents pushing a small child followed us into the church. When the little one wailed, I thought to myself, I’m right there with you kiddo. Visualizing a protective, reflective bubble helped me block off what felt like a large amount of negative energy. I was glad to exit the building.

After our journey I did a bit of research and discovered the gross brutality associated with many of these California missions. Nowadays, when I travel, I check out the history of these places in advance.

Now that we are in a peaceful home, I am itching to arrange my work area to encourage the creative flow so I can spend more time in the creative zone. Enter Feng Shui.

Quick overview of Feng Shui

The first time I heard of this system of spatial arrangement for beneficial energy flow was in the Historical fiction novel Tai-Pan, by James Clavell. The book includes a long discussion of Feng Shui regarding the location of the home, which was discovered to be on the “Dragon’s neck.” The Feng Shui practitioner gives recommendations to the book’s characters to help correct this tragic placement as “That’d be horrifical, for the dragon that sleeps in the earth would no longer be able to sleep peacefully.”

Apparently bad things happen to those living on the dragon’s neck.

A fun quote spoofed from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings: "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger." I’ve seen on Social Media as:  “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.”

In other words: Never wake a sleeping dragon.

Back to Feng Shui…

I found two feng shui maps (baguas), otherwise known as the 8 areas. The areas on the maps correspond to important areas of one’s life for health, wealth, and happiness. The five essential elements are wood, water, metal, fire, and earth.

Classical Bagua Map
Western Bagua Map

Directions aren’t my strongest skill anyway, but with all the moving around we’ve done I feel directionally challenged. I’m leaning toward the Western Bagua Map because it does not incorporate direction. It doesn’t matter which method you choose.

If you are considering exploring Feng Shui for your home or office, I encourage you to choose whichever resonates best with you. There is always more than one way to work with energy.

Other important considerations

Color

Color is important for creativity. It may not be practical to paint the walls, so desired colors can be included in the writing cave by using photos, pillows, wall hangings, flowers, or any bric-a-brac that appeals to you.

There are also colors associated with the elements of Feng Shui:

Wood: Green, Brown
Fire: Red, Strong Yellow, Orange, Purple, Pink
Earth: Light Yellow, Sandy/Earthy, Light Brown
Metal: White, Gray
Water: Blue, Black

The colors for creativity are white and gray. The color of most of the walls in our current living situation is white-ish, so I am good to go. Light yellow and sandy brown, both earth colors, also work well. I wrote in an orange room in a previous house. I felt very good in this room, but am writing with more ease in a room of off-white walls, which is encouraging.

Shapes

Shapes for creativity should be rounded. The table I used in the last house was oval, here it is triangular with rounded edges.

Décor

Decor pieces of sliver, earthenware, rocks, and crystals are all helpful to promote good energy flow. Earthy pictures without fire or water elements are also beneficial for creativity. Steer clear of photos dominant with the colors found in flames. Mountains, forests, and sandy beaches are all good.

Writing Desk

For your writing desk the recommendation is to use a command position such that you have a visible control over your surroundings. Optimally, this calls for having a clear sight of the doorway from your chair, a solid wall behind, and a window with a nice view. If you can’t see the door from your chair, try using a mirror on the wall to reflect the door. If there is no window, use an earthy photo and be sure that you have a light source as close to natural light as possible.

The room I am using now has some skylights so I have plenty of natural light. I don’t have access to a window with a nice view, instead I have a few favorite pieces on the desk and a big fluffy dog to keep me company.

Reorganizing my workspace with Feng Shui is my New Year’s push to have a productive writing schedule in the coming months.

Now, I am curious. Do you use any special items nearby while writing to help stimulate the creative juices? Do you believe that places can carry energy, positive or negative? Has anyone tried Feng Shui in their homes?

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Ellen

Author, speaker, and former teacher, Ellen L. Buikema has written non-fiction for parents and a series of chapter books for children with stories encouraging the development of empathy—sprinkling humor wherever possible. Her Work In Progress, The Hobo Code, is YA historical fiction.

Find her at http://ellenbuikema.com or on Amazon.



Resources

26 responses to “Does Your Workspace Affect Your Writing?”

  1. Diana Stout says:

    I have chosen apartments based on Feng Shui, along with where to place my desk. The address and placement in a complex or on the road are important, too. If there are awkward room placement(s) that can't be changed, then I do everything possible with the Feng Shui decor to overcome any negative energy. It works. Other decor pieces not mentioned can be musical in nature (Instructments, bells, singing bowls, etc.), specific plants, wind chimes, animals (pictures, statues, etc.), lights, even jewelry. The magick/feng shui items I have on my desk are rocks, crystals, pendulums, a bell, and a wand. In fact, I perform Feng Shui wherever I go, where I sit in a room, at a table, in the theater, etc. It really is all about the energy.

  2. ecellenb says:

    Diana, you've included some great additions. Thank you! When was your introduction to Feng Shui? I never thought to use it when out and about, but wonder if I might be applying the principles subconsciously.

    • Diana Stout says:

      I took a master class back in the early 2000s and was told I was then certified. I've been using it ever since. Made a copy of the first bagua you presented, and then I used it for any floor plan, AND for any room. Now, I've got the areas memorize so I'm able to quickly assess any room. I always use the front door (main door) method (when coming in the door I'm facing north) rather than actual East, West, South, North. I found it easier and it worked better for me. I bet you are using the principles without realizing it.

  3. Jenny Hansen says:

    I will confess, I can write almost anywhere, as long as it is either super private, or really noisy. Like, I love to read and write in bars. All that noise helps ADD-me tune it out and focus on the work. Plus, there is food and snacks and great people-watching when I take breaks.

    • ecellenb says:

      Ah, Jenny, how I envy you. Really noisy places send me into "Look! There's a squirrel!" mode.

      When I draw or paint I like to listen to music, but need quiet and good vibes for my writing. We are all different, and that's a good thing.

      • kmazemke says:

        I agree Ellen, that music makes a difference. It be the difference for me between getting my word count in or staring at a blank page.

        • ecellenb says:

          I know writers who write gritty prose while listening to gritty music. For painting, I like bright tunes and light classical music. Cannot write for beans with background music. Sigh.

  4. Pamela Gibson says:

    I work on a laptop in my white-walled living room on a gray couch. I feel most creative in that space, so I work there early in the morning. The room is on the west side of the house. I now know why it feels right and other spots in the house do not.

  5. kmazemke says:

    Hi Ellen,
    It makes sense now why I felt drawn to a light blue color when I painted my work space! I'll have to dig in more to these ideas while I reorganize during my break.
    Thanks for this post!

    • ecellenb says:

      Super! I'm glad you found some helpful info to use. It would be great to know what you do during reorganization time and if you notice a difference in creativity.

  6. I have a four inch stuffed calico frog that I kept on my monitor for years. I'm going to dig him out of whatever drawer he wound up in and restore him to a place on my desk. Unfortunately, he can't rest atop the LCD monitors I use now. But I think he gave me some happiness in my workplace. Perhaps he's lucky.

  7. Eldred Bird says:

    I have to admit, I'm a little like Jenny. I tend to do my best writing in a noisy environment, far from all of my usual avoidance behavior tools. The bulk of my latest book was written in bars, doctor's office waiting rooms, and hospitals.

    As for my writing space at home, it's cluttered--just like my brain. There's usually a guitar or other stringed instrument within reach to pluck on while I think, as well as a small figure of Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, sitting on a shelf next to my computer. It's there to remind me to stay out of my own way and just let the creativity flow.

  8. barbdelong says:

    Love your post, Ellen! Without realizing it, I've incorporated many Feng Shui elements in my writing space. I replaced an old dark wood desk for a simple white one and it faces west with a wonderful view of trees and way off in the distance, a slice of ocean. I have quite a few special rocks and crystals beside me on a bookshelf and my decor is gray and white. I've been much more productive since I bought this desk. As soon as I walked into this little townhouse almost 4 years ago, I felt a lightness of being. I feel "right" here.

  9. dholcomb1 says:

    Interesting concept for getting the creative juices flowing for writing. I mostly write at the kitchen table or the dining room table--not ideal shapes, but they do have command positions.

    denise

    • ecellenb says:

      Interesting! Those are the same locations in our home in Arizona where I worked. Moreso at the dining room table. I also had a small Jade statue of a Chinese War horse I kept pointed in my direction to balance energy and good fortune.

  10. Dr. Cherrye says:

    This was a great blog. I enjoy learning about new things that I can practice. While I’ve not tried any of these ideas, I have known that color matters, especially for children, and/ or children with special needs. Some educators will definitely agree with you.

    Whenever I make changes within my home office, I will reflect on this information, so thank you for sharing.

    • ecellenb says:

      Hi Dr. Cherrye! Having worked with special needs students myself I've noticed that color as well as cluttered walls makes a difference for them. Overstimulation bad! I'd love to know what works for you.

  11. John Peragine says:

    I bought a ridiculous chair this Christmas for my office. Since I spend the majority of my waking hours there, I want it to be somewhere I like being. Although it looks like a cross between GOT and some strange steampunk world these days... it’s my happy place. Great article!

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