This has been on my mind a lot lately so I might as well write a post and get it out. And not just because we recently moved and all my stuff is … not where it usually is. My desk isn’t even set up yet. This makes me kind of sad, but what better time to think about how to reinvent my writing space?
The practical part of me wants to say “Bogarts! You don’t need a dedicated writing space! That’s what a portable, laptop computer is for. You can write anywhere!”
And then there’s the creative sensitive genius inside of me that sighs. Because it believes that somewhere out there is the perfect desk, the perfect chair, the perfect Warehouse 13-like artifact that could turn my writing sessions into moments of magical perfection. It wonders if lighting does play a roll. Or if it really does matter whether I can see out a window or not. Or if I actually do need a tiny plant named Alfred sitting next to my computer. (This is how I’ve always imagined I would be as a professional writer: shiny laptop, shabby chic desk, and an Alfred plant. No idea why.)
So I turned to the internet and looked up famous writer’s writerly abodes. As should have been expected, that was not conclusive. Jane Austen wrote at a tiny cafe-like desk with no drawers. E.B. White wrote out of a corner in a sparse wooden building on a hard wooden bench. Others surrounded themselves with books and clutter while some kept everything meticulously clean and boring. Then there’s the question of light or no light, seclusion or in the midst of others, comfortable or uncomfortable.
Laptops have changed how a lot of people write by making the writing space no longer about a physical container to hold the tools of the trade. Now, it’s all about how the writer feels, both in their head space and in their physical comfort. I suddenly realized this past week that how I feel when I write my best does not coincide with feeling my best. Sometimes I need discomfort to keep me alert or focused.
Maybe take a look at your writing space today and ask yourself some honest questions. Do you write better when you are uncomfortable? Is your mind focused more when you have other people’s creative juices sloshing around, or do you need a sterile space that is kind of boring?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then just enjoy perusing the internet for pictures of famous writer’s desks. It’s a lovely way to spend an afternoon and it may help you realize that there is no right or wrong way to arrange your space. Just make sure you are carving out both the time, space, and effort in your life that you need to in order to get that creative work done.
This blog post from Avoiding Apathy not only helped me to think about where I write, but I think it’s also a great example of voice. Wish I could write blog posts like that.
Anyways, go check it out and you can probably find some good inspiration over there. (And yes, I hope to find space in my living room for a Norden because of that post.)
Other links to try for good writing space ideas:
Writerly Life talks briefly about the Writer’s Room of Boston.
Apartment Therapy has a post about spaces people created specifically for writing.
The Write Life has some wonderful pictures of famous writer’s spaces.