The writer’s workbench, the writer’s tech

My apologies.  I have been writing all day every day and this means I have been neglecting the blog.

I have assembled my own little work bench and I thought I would share with you the tech in question.

Upper right hand corner of desk

This is my iPad now serving as a time keeper.  I am using Clock Pro, specifically the Count Down function that shows that I have 5 hours, 22 minutes and 19 seconds till the manuscript (this version of it) is due in the hands of my editor.  That means I will be writing til 5:00 today.  

Upper left hand corner

This is Molly, a grumpy Siamese cat.  Cats are not optional.  You must have one if you want to write well.  Strictly speaking, you should have several.  I do.  Vivienne and Zsa Zsa are asleep somewhere.  When they wake up they will want me to make breakfast and throw things for them to fetch.  So the idea is to see how much work I can get done before all hell break lose.

Pile of magazines

This is a pile of magazines, each of which represents a blog post I have not written. This is the only paper that allowed on the desk.  (Well, except for the letter you see between Molly and the iPad.  This was type written on antique stationary.  So an exception is made.) Sitting on the pile of magazines is a little Canon camera which serves as an excellent paper weight (and camera).  

Coffee cup

This is caffeine that enters my body in the form of coffee that begins in the kitchen as the  Starbucks whole bean "house blend" which the package tells me is "lively and balanced" but I prefer Dark Roast because this is, the package tells me, X – Bold, and I am pretty sure my prose needs every little bit of momentum it can get.  

Book on desk

This is the LiveScribe system.  It captures anything written, stores it in your computer where it becomes searchable.  I have the bad habit of writing on anything that handy and then I can’t ever find it again.  Now I have everything in one place and it is finally findable!  Highly recommended.

Computer on desk

This is a MacBook Air.  I just converted from a Windows ThinkPad and boy am I grateful I did.  I recently had to fire up the ThinkPad and it reminded me of an occasion some years ago when I had to go from my computer based word processor to an IBM Selectric II.  Talk about time travel.  On the Air, I am running Google Chrome, Microsoft Office for Mac 2011, Zotero, Things, Gmail and assorted other programs.


This is invisible but it is the biggest thing in the room.  The idea is to write for as close to 12 hours a day as I can manage.  I never get much more than 8 hours done, but if I don’t aim high, I get, like, 4 hours done.  The trick is to keep distractions at bay.  Email, Twitter, Blogging!  I just try to keep my head down and write as much as possible.  Oh, I do take a walk.  

Your assignment

Every writer has his or her own system.  Please share yours!  

12 thoughts on “The writer’s workbench, the writer’s tech

  1. Speaking Agent

    Love it!

    I don’t do much writing myself. However my fiancee tends to write in her head for days prior to deadlines. Wrestling with thoughts and ideas, snacks, and buries herself in anything creative: other books, movies, art, music.

    Then sits down one night and hammers it all out to the early hours.

    1. Grant Post author

      Oh, so that’s what I’m missing. Sleeping right through the early hours. D’Oh!

  2. K

    I stayed up until 4am writing at home and now I’m in my campus office. So this blog is just the thing today.

    When I had to write a dissertation chapter in a weekend, Mom came and made it so that I just had to write all weekend – I didn’t even have to think about what or when I wanted to eat. When she wasn’t preparing food, Mom sat on the living room and knitted and watched (with the volume on mute) French films with the subtitles on.

    This afternoon, I couldn’t take one more minute of fending for myself so I went to a Chinese restaurant, alone, with the newspaper, at 2pm. Yessss.

    What do you eat when you write (do you eat), and how do you get it?

    I want a dog but it does look like cats are the better companion for solitary work.

    I also have to have a completely clear desk.

  3. Walter

    Hey Grant, it certainly looks like a little spot of working paradise to me.
    Incidentally, my kid also needs an alarm clock when he does his work. Its nto train him to be more time disciplined when working on his homework.

  4. Kira Turner

    Your desk is inspirational – wish mine looked that neat and tidy.
    Perhaps if I go out and get a couple of cats I too could write all day.
    Thanks for sharing.

  5. Theresa Quintanilla

    I’ve developed a routine of doing my creative work in the morning. All but crisis emails must be answered after lunch. We have a house rabbit who, if left to his own devices in the living room during the morning, will chew up everything. So I move my portable desk into that room and he jumps up on the hassock next to my knee when he wants attention. This process is working oddly well. You can see pictures of my cluttered office and the bunny at

    1. Grant Post author

      Teresa, Rupert looks like an excellent work companion, when not actually chewing through research documents. . Thanks for sharing the pix! G.

  6. Steve Rappaport

    Fascinating tour Grant. My books are written in a chair with an ottoman, I like to have my feet elevated. Nearly all my source materials make their way into Evernote, which I’ve used since 2006 when it was only a desktop application. Any materials I print are kept in folders within arms reach. When not writing at home, I go to the Westport library for their comfortable chairs, wifi, river views and coffee. The coffee staff is friendly and supportive, which helps those times when I need human contact aafter being isolated with my own thoughts for too long. I find that editing is a good desk activity for me, there’s something about it that contributes to close scrutiny and careful word choice.

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