Now that we’ve gotten passed lesson one and two which covered Time Management and Surviving Rejection, I still believe before we get to actively searching for jobs, pitching stories and writing proposals, it’s good to make sure we know how to make small investments in our home office and career to have the tools needed to have a stable foundation for your career.
I am pretty sure I have written that I usually work from my home office. I work also on site when I am teaching or in meetings. I also have some newsroom experience. But whether you are looking for a staff position or a sustainable full time freelance/contract career, an office is an office. It’s great to be organized where ever you are.
Photo Source: Source: The Writing Cooperative
Make sure your office is mobile.
It’s a great idea to invest in a backpack, a decent laptop bag or large purse so you can carry your laptop and other tools in order to be able to write and take notes wherever you go. You can work or write on a train or plan while traveling at a coffee shop or in offsite meetings.
Building your home office and library.
Once again, whether you want to have a full time freelance writing career or a staff position, I can promise you, you will be getting emails and edits back from your employers and editors after regular work hours. My advice is to have a designated place for your books and desk so you can work on projects from home.
Why having a collection of books is the most important thing you need as a writer or creative person.
Reading is the basis of success to writing, point blank. There’s no way around it. Having non-fiction books on history, writing, biographies of successful people, best seller books on business book and marketing, books on topics of your personal interest and studies gives you an important set of references besides just using Google. I know we are in the digital age and you may find yourself working on more digital platforms, but writing and creative work will always be an intellectual, vulnerable, fast paced career.
Reading builds your brain and analytical skills. If your editor or boss throws a complex question at you or gives you a project that stretches your working knowledge, books, along with the internet will keep help you research and answer questions quickly.
Share, suggest and trade books with colleagues and friends with common interests.
I started Publik / Private Library a couple of years ago so people can borrow and return books they need for their research. Of course, you don’t have to be that flexible, but sharing and trading your tools will help you and the people succeed.
Wikipedia should not be your main source.
The Millennials who have obtained college degrees know you weren’t able to use Wikipedia as sources for your papers, so try your best not to allow that to be your go-to during research for your work. For the next Master Class, we’ll go into reliable sources for research, studies and quotes.
What to have on your desk in your home office space.
I can understand some people live in smaller spaces and having an office seems like a privilege, but even if you’re going to sit on the floor at your coffee table or breakfast, it’s good to have to access to:
One for professional daily tasks, the other for general thoughts and ideas for pitches, book ideas, creative projects.
A collection of pens.
It’s good to purchase a new package of pens as often as you can. I think all writers know 10 pens can dwindle down to 0 out of nowhere. Put your pens in one place. I reuse old glass candle cylinders for my pens. I have so many, I know even if most of them are dried out, I’ll find one that is functional!
Keep your business cards in one place.
You’ll probably have a number of business cards you’ve collected over a couple of years of networking. You can keep them in an old coffee mug or a small box. You don’t have to invest in a Rolodex. Do your best to have access to them.
A desk lamp and a couple sets of reading glasses.
No matter your age, the longer you write and work on a laptop or desktop, your eyes are going to become blurry. A good desk lamp and reading glasses will save you from making several minor typos (they happen to us all). But these tools certainly minimize the probability of writing typos in quick emails and other documents.
As a critic, I have to describe music, art and films quite often. When I get stuck on a word, or want to avoid being redundant with a description (for example: I like to use the words, unique, iconic, legendary and other words often), I have a book thesaurus and use thesaurus.com to help me expand my vocabulary quickly. Keep your word usage as diverse as you can.
A plastic storage bin for your desk.
A little office paper crate to hold your mail, miscellaneous papers, tape, scissors, stapler or whatever you don’t need to grab as often as your pens or laptop is a great inexpensive tool to have.
Invest in a printer!!
Having a home printer is a game changer. You’ll be able to print out documents you never thought you needed because of online tools like Google Drive where you can share and edit documents remotely. I think it is great to use cloud based products, but I have many friends who admire my writing and sometimes, I like to gift them with preview copies of my writings. Sometimes, I need a friend, colleague or partner to read and line edit by hand. I am a bit old school. I just like to have versions of writing in print.
An inexpensive file cabinet.
I have a small plastic file cabinet (that is flimsy but functional) to file printed writing, invoices, pay stubs, tax information, student loan information, etc. Stay on top of your paperwork.
A comfortable desk chair.
If your desk chair isn’t comfortable, you’re not going to sit in it. Find something you like and will allow you to sit at your desk for a long period of time.
Coffee or espresso or caffeinated tea.
Journalists are the most caffeinated people on the planet….I’ve seen studies. Coffee or caffeinated tea like matte or green tea is not going to kill you if you drink it every morning. Try to have a time of the day when you stop drinking those beverages switch over to a calming herbal tea to wind you down at the end of your work day.
I think that’s everything! You’re always welcome to reach out to me with questions…or let me know if you seen any typos – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time!