Come play inside a writer's brain, scary!

Hi and welcome to First Monday Mentoring for February 2015, when this blog is open to any and all questions about writing and related subjects.

One subject writers rarely talk about is what I call WOSA – writers’ office stationery addiction, also dubbed a stationery habit by historical writer, Anne Gracie. WOSA is surprisingly common among people who work with words. They’re the ones recognising instantly that blue dragons, purple ice creams, pink butterflies and orange cats are all shaped paperclips.

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I found I had WOSA years ago, during the Incredible Shrinking Exercise Books affair. At my first school in Australia at age eight, I was called by the teacher to explain the disappearing pages. I had to confess that I couldn’t resist the allure of the fresh, clean lined pages and had been carefully opening the staples and removing pages I was sure wouldn’t be missed, so I could fill them with the stories I made up even then. Luckily she was understanding and promised me a supply of gorgeous new paper if I stopped vandalizing my exercise books.

“Happiness is new stationery,” said romance author, Rachel Bailey, who posted a photo on Facebook of her shiny new purple polka dotted clips. In under an hour she had over 150 responses in an atmosphere that I can only describe as confessional.

When I posted about my lion-shaped clips that hold the papers between their butt cheeks, Rachel said there’s “something strangely fitting about clipping draft work that way.” Not something I’d considered but must concede, she has a point.

As more and more writers ‘fessed up, Alli Sinclair described meeting her husband, “Our eyes met in the manila folder section; we shyly glanced at each other over the post-it notes, and fell in love in front of the sparkly gel pens.” A match made in stationery heaven, obviously.

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Nicki Cavalchini Strickland asked, “Does the fact that I hunted stationery in Tokyo, and search for refills online constitute an obsession?”

Savannah Blaize says, “I could happily stay in a stationery shop. Just give me a blanket and pillow.”

Names kicked around as favourite sources include in no special order, Typo, Sweden’s Kikki K, Smiggle, Officeworks, Riot and Daiso, as well as Warehouse Stationery in New Zealand and Ito in Japan. Rachel Bailey adds, “How did I not know Daiso existed? Or that electric erasers are a thing? Three levels of stationery? I might just faint.”

Tracey O’Hara also admits to a pen habit. “My favourites are the pilot erasables, like using a pen but you can rub out mistakes.”

One of the most popular ideas, other than a stationery stand at the Romance Writers of Australia national conference in Melbourne next August, came from Sandi Antonelli. “Why isn’t there a perfume called Stationery or Eau de Officeworks?”

One thing quickly becomes clear – there’s no cure for WOSA and no real desire for one, despite one call for a Stationery Sniffers’ Anonymous group. The addiction is seen as enabling the writing process as much as it satisfies the needs of the sufferers. “Just ask my credit card about my pen and notebook weakness,” says Mel Scott.

Here are 4 ways you can tell if you have WOSA:

1. You take a day job at Officeworks to feed your addiction on a staff discount.
2. You have more than a dozen of any stationery item, staplers in several colours, or clips in purple polka dots.
3. You have a shelf full of beautiful blank notebooks that are “too good to use” that you’re saving for special projects.
4. You keep drafts of your work clipped between the butt cheeks of small yellow lions.

Over to you. Do you have WOSA and how does it impact your writing life? What’s the best stationery item you’ve found recently?

Share your thoughts in the box below. I moderate posts to avoid spam, but if you want your comment to appear right away, click on the ‘sign me up’ icon at right. I don’t share your details with anyone.

Happy writing and stationery shopping,

Valerie

http://www.valerieparv.com
on Twitter @valerieparv and Facebook
Check out Valerie’s online course, Free the Writer In You
At http://www.valerieparv.com/course.html

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Comments on: "First Monday Mentoring February – do you have WOSA, the addiction writers rarely talk about?" (16)

  1. Oh, yeah. I definitely have this…

  2. Hi!
    *nervous wave to everyone*
    My name is Angie the Hippo, and I have WOSA…

  3. Yes I’m addicted. And yes I might have been one of the 150 people in Rachael’s “confessional”. Standing in Kiki K turns me on.

  4. Once, I was in OfficeWorks, standing in the middle the aisle of mechanical pencils, drawing in the scent of freshly displayed Pentels, Pacers, Staedtlers and the lovely array of 0.7 and 0.5 refill lead.

    A salesperson at OfficeWorks stopped and asked if I was all right.

    I said, “I am enjoying the smell.”

    With a smile, he replied, “Many people love the perfume of pens and paper.”

    Then we both breathed deeply the subtle scent of stationery.

    It was a moment I will never forget. AND IT REALLY HAPPENED!

    • Hee, love it. Launching Bronwyn Parry’s new book last month at Harry Hartog’s Bookshop in Canberra, I opened my speech with how lovely it was to be in a setting and among people who didn’t see anything odd about sniffing books.

  5. I’m very lucky because my father in law was a graphic designer before he retired and designed a few stationery lines for which he got lots of samples. I use them to make notes and plan chapters in.

  6. Pens. My weakness is pens. I do have a few blank journal books because they ARE too good to use and everyone knows they are for decoration only.

  7. Ha ha! You know me so well, Valerie! I’m in love with Paper Mate Ink Joy pens – in all the colours!

  8. I edit with a pink pen (kinder than red and prettier). I refuse to say how many I have but it would be awful to be caught short, wouldn’t it? And while we’re confessing I’ll admit I also have a shelf dedicated to fresh note books. Because.

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