Writing Totems

I was on the Nanowrimo site the other day and found a thread about writing totems. I hadn’t really thought about it much, but I think all writers probably have something that they like to keep within view to help them write, both as inspiration and a reminder of why we chose this path.

This here is Mr. Socky. He’s been with me throughout this whole writing adventure. My son made him for me when he was 3 or 4 years old…he went to my craft area, next to the computer in the basement, which was unfinished and full of shadows and creaking noises. There he glued a mouth, eyes and hair onto a sock pilfered from the laundry room and gave it to me as I worked on my very first story, a PB called A Frog Named Flamingo. He told me it was to keep me company and so I wouldn’t be scared, writing alone down in a dark corner of the basement.

I was so touched that I promised him right there and then that Socky would stay with me by my computer until I became an author. He lost his eyes somewhere along the way but I still have him, sitting here on a shelf in my office. Whenever I get frustrated I look over at him and remind myself why I’m doing this. Mr. Socky is a constant reminder that others believe in me and seeing him nearby lends me strength when I feel worn out.

So, do you have a writing totem–something special that you keep nearby that symbolizes your journey? What creative things do you surround yourself with in your writing space?


Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
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17 Responses to Writing Totems

  1. courtney says:

    Ooh, I love it. Rock on, Mr. Socky. Best writing totem ever.

    It’s gonna happen for you, Angela. I really believe that.

  2. Roy Buchanan says:

    My little travel gnome keeps peeking around the corner of my bookshelf on my desk.

  3. Tara says:

    That’s so cute. I have a big tissue flower my son made me. I hang it from the lamp by my desk. I’ve also been gifts to help inspire me. I have a minituare owl from Harry Potter. And I have cutouts from popular magazines reviewing some of my favorite stories.

  4. Ray Veen says:

    That is really cool. I got nothing. I need something.

  5. Miriam says:

    Awww Mr. Socky is so sweet. What a caring son you have too 🙂 I don’t really have a writing totem really but I do like listening to music that fits the mood. If I’m writing on paper I always like using a good pen and good paper too. I can’t help it XD

  6. Beth says:

    Aww, that’s so sweet and neat. All I have around my workspace is a mess.


  7. So cute!! 🙂 Love yours.

    My very first published article is framed and hanging to my right. A signed book by one of my fave authors and the last email I received from a friend who was killed this year is hanging above my laptop.. Plus, I hang up every reader email I receive on the wall to my left. 🙂 Whew. 🙂

  8. Angela says:

    Mary, you would be amazed by how many writers I know of who have cats prowling around their writing space. I bet she is still around, checking in once in awhile…

    Tricia, I think what makes us unique are the things that inspire us. I have a collection of LOTR miniatures and then a big Aragorn figure still in the box. I have always loved fantasy, and LOTR inspires me to try my best to create something unique and wonderful just like Tolkien. Love that sign too–I need one of those!

    Vi, my dod often curls up at my feet. I don’t know if it’s that she likes to be near me or the heat coming off the computer, lol…

    Danyelle, that is so cool! I would love it if I had some live antics of chipmunks to keep me company through the day!

    Yuna, I’m glad you have such an active and inspiring muse!

    Cinders, that works! I often find that the ordinary things offer the best inspiration…you can look at that rock and think, what if it wasn’t really a rock? What if it was something else–something alive, something pretending to be a rock, something watching you, observing you, a lost stone of power, a fairy stone, a lucky stone…the possibilities are endless. And it’s a gift from your daughter, which makes it special right from the get go!

    Erica, love your cat’s name! I’ve recently gotten into itunes as well (I know I’m late to the party on that one) and boy do I enjoy writing to a set playlist!

    Thanks everyone for sharing your totems!

  9. Erica says:

    Mr. Socky, that’s awesome.

    I would say it’s my cat Zeus, he’s always by my side when I write. That and iTunes, although that’s not really an item.

    Mary- Aww so nice. I’m sure she is 🙂

  10. Cinders says:

    I never thought of it as a totem, but I have a rock paper weight that my daughter gave me from a dollar store. It says “Quiet” on it. So I’m going to designate it my writing totem…lol.

    Mr. Socky is adorable. 🙂

  11. Yunaleska says:

    I don’t have a writing totem per se…am I allowed to include my Muse? She’s such a character, that I can’t do without her, and her funny actions make me smile.

  12. Danyelle says:

    Your son sounds so sweet!

    *pats Mr. Socky on the head*

    My writing totems are living little chipmunks. Four of them (well, five if we count the bigger one) inspiring me every day. They’re constantly encouraging and believing in me, even when I don’t believe in myself. 🙂

  13. Vijaya says:

    I have pictures, papers, office supplies … and usually a puppy by my feet and the cats on the desk who sit on the very papers I need to consult. So basically it’s a big mess, but no totem per se.

  14. Oh my, your son making that sock face is the most moving gesture ever. That truly is motivating and endearing.
    I don’t have anything like that even though I have lots of icon-like things around me–a plate painted by an artist with a scene that feels like me sailing into the unknown, a marble sign that reads don’t piss off the fairies, a bear fetish and mouse kachina–all things that mean something about my creative process. By the way, I don’t worry about the fairies being pissed by what I write. Rather I think they want me to push it, to take risks, to fly.
    In my first NaNo year, I’m trying to do that. Thanks for this post!

  15. Mary Witzl says:

    Mr Socky is great. How sweet that your son wanted to give you something that would comfort and reassure you while you were writing.

    My writing totem was my cat. She was a constant fixture in my lap or on my desk (and she still is, virtually). I can’t help but think she’s still there somewhere, cheering me on and drooling on my hands.

  16. Angela says:

    Absolutely! I actually keep photos of my kiddoes in front of the monitor when I write, too!

  17. Kate says:

    Can I be soppy and say it’s photos of my kids?

    Love Mr Socky though!

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