How I Transformed My Office Into a Source of Inspiration

May 2, 2012 | Writing

Oddly enough, my office is my favorite room in the whole house. I say that it’s odd because if I’m in my office it’s usually just for one thing—writing. And writing is not my favorite thing to do. In fact, if you know me at all, you probably know that I don’t enjoy writing. I enjoy “having written.” Ha!  For me, writing is a discipline.

That’s why I transformed my office into an awesome, inspirational place. If I’m going to spend a lot of time doing something I don’t necessarily enjoy, I might as well do it in a place that I love.

Here’s the thing—my office was very normal. It was just like every other office I’d ever seen. I had to be very intentional about turning it into a pleasant environment. There are 3 things in particular that drastically changed the atmosphere and feel of the room, enabling it to become a source of inspiration instead of boredom and frustration.

1. That Ugly Pole

Ugly Pole Tag

We live in Orange Beach, Alabama, where almost every house is built on stilts or pilings. This is to supposedly safeguard the home when hurricanes threaten. One of the pilings ended in the very center of the room that happened to become my office. My thought was, “Well, we can either have a pole in my office, or…”

Or we could turn it into something cool. So one day the boys and I took some hot glue guns and started gluing seashells onto the pole. Gradually, it started to look like a dock piling you’d see underwater if you were snorkeling. We glued more and more onto it in our spare time—coral, shells, and anything that we’d find in the ocean or on the beach. We even attached two big speckled trout the taxidermist prepared to “swim” around it!

Now, the “underwater” pole has become the centerpiece of the office. It’s almost always the first thing guests are drawn to. And I know it certainly makes me feel more at home than that plain, distracting, out-of-place pole did.

2. The Influence Wall

Wall of InfluenceThere is a particular section of wall that I devoted entirely to the people who have had a big influence on my life. It’s a collection of family and friends who continue to remind me of what’s important in life.

You’ll find pictures of my parents, who passed away when I was 19, my wife and our two sons, my 8th grade English teacher, Mrs. McLoyd (she was the first person who ever told me I could write),  and more recent friends who have had a big impact on my life like Bill and Gloria Gaither.

Who would go on your influence wall?


3. The Rejection Letters – a reminder to persist

Rejection Letters TagThe manuscript for my first novel, The Traveler’s Gift, was turned down 51 times before a publisher finally picked it up. Persisting in the face of all those rejections was one of the greatest challenges of my life.

My manager and I were kept going only by our own belief that the book’s message was something that people truly needed to hear. Other than that, we had no evidence to assure us that the book would ever get published, let alone hit the bestseller list.

So I framed two of the nastier rejection letters we received. Not out of spite (I don’t look at them and think na-na-na-na-na), but to serve as a reminder to continue to Persist Without Exception in everything I do that I believe is worthwhile. I know that if I made it through all those rejections, I can make it through just about anything.

I tell you all this because I want you to understand the power of turning your workspace into a place where you love to go. When you are creating an office or a workspace, don’t do what everyone else is doing. If your favorite color is bright red, paint the walls bright red. If you like rocks, find some cool rocks and put them on your desk. Or grow a putting green with real grass near the window. Or glue something awesome to your ceiling! Just do it! Have fun! And send us all a picture when you’re finished!

You’ll be amazed by the difference in your attitude when you sit down to work once you’ve surrounded yourself with a little inspiration.

What does your office look like? What are some inspiring additions you’ve made? What are some you would like to make?

This blog was inspired by a listener question from episode 26 of In the Loop, Andy’s popular podcast series! To listen to this episode, click here.  And don’t forget to subscribe. It’s free!


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