If you don’t already have a space dedicated to your writing, I highly recommend one. Writing space is the best way to ensure that when you sit down to focus, you’re able to get work done. A lot of people are very particular about how their desks are set up. I am one of those people. If I sit down to work, I need my desk to be welcoming and comfortable.
Like the desk used by Virginia Woolf (image borrowed from here), my space is has to be clutter free. If my desk gets buried in papers, books, headphones and wires, etc, then I can’t work until I tidy it. Clutter is an absolute “no” in my book.
I talked a lot about writing with sounds recently and how they can help your writing. Some sounds can hurt your writing process, too, so be careful about what sounds you allow in your writing space.
Take a look at Jane Austen’s desk (found here). I can just imagine hearing the peaceful scratching of the quill on the paper, and a gentle breeze rustling leaves outside her window, maybe a bird is chirping outside too. I know that those sounds would relax me and help me focus. If you live somewhere (like I do) where rustling leaves are replaced by loud cars, and your birds chirping are actually jackhammers from the construction work outside, it might be smart to invest in some good headphones.
Did you know that according to a Texas A&M study, workers who had plants in their room were 13% more creative? (Also - plants help with depression, cold symptoms, and indoor air pollution!) I am a very big supporter of having plants everywhere,but especially in your creative space.
Nigella Lawson (food writer, image found here) has a large tree and some flowers in front of her writing space, as well as a third plant on the shelf behind her.
My mom used to come into my room when I was reading at night and turn the light on saying that reading in the dark is bad for my eyes. Of course, getting up to turn off the light when I am ready for sleep is bad for my laziness, and now that I’m an adult, paying for the electricity on a writer’s salary isn’t easy!
Writer Colm Tóibín’s desk features a large beautiful lamp, so I have to assume that Colm’s mother complained about working in the dark as well! That, or it’s common sense that it’s important to be able to see. If you don’t like lamps shining in your face, try positioning your desk near the window to allow natural lighting.
Pens and Index Cards
Papers, notebooks, pens, colors, etc are useful tools while writing. I use index cards to keep track of writing notes. The ones that are currently on my desk include a small map of the fantasy world I’m working in, a family tree, a map of the main village, and some house plans for my main character’s homes.
Writer Will Self (picture source) has a wall full of post-its next to his desk, which I have no doubt is full of great ideas! Keep your notes close so you can peek as often as you need to without wasting too much time.
If I start writing without a cup of tea in my hand, it’s never long before I stop to get one. Then, on the way, I notice how dusty the kitchen windowsill is and start to clean it. When I get the teabag from the cupboard, I see some crackers, and how nice would some cheese and crackers be with my tea? But I’m out of cheese, so I go to the store and - well, you can see where this is going. I don’t get any writing done! Now, while this is definitely an exaggeration, you do waste your precious writing time going to get your drinks. So make sure you have your coffee, tea, water, wine, or beer on the desk before you settle down to work.
Susan Orlean, a journalist, has a diet coke next to her computer to keep her hydrated while she writes (photo from here). (Warning: Cats and other cute fluffy animals will distract you from writing. Having a furry friend near your writing desk is not productive, but can be very very fun).
What does your writing desk look like? Submit a picture of your work space and why your space helps keep you productive!
-There is no box of mine here that I dare open; -My writing-desk is a box made of rose-wood; -All my boxes are painted except what are here; -There is no box of mine that I dare not open, unless it is full of live scorpions; -All my rose-wood boxes are unpainted.
Conclusion: My writing desk is full of live scorpions
Greta Magnusson Grossman Grasshopper table lamp, originally designed in 1947 and Nanna Ditzel writing desk, designed in 1958 and produced by Søren Willadsen, Denmark. Both back in production by Gubi, Denmark. / Bungalow5
Robert Dumesnil, Duke of Urbino Writing Desk, 1600. Walnut inlaid with engraved ivory. V&A
This piece is decorated with an elaborate inlay characteristic of German gunstocks made from about 1590. Writing boxes like this also served as a reading desk for bibles, hence the abundant use of religious motifs both inside and out.