A Writing Room of One’s Own

June 11, 2012

Do you have a space set aside for your writing (or other creative pursuits) even if it has to be tidied/corralled/put away when the family comes home? It can help so much, I believe, in making creativity a regular part of one’s life if one has a spot that is devoted to that.

The website of the Guardian in the UK has an ongoing feature on Writer’s (and composer’s) Rooms that one can lose oneself in for long stretches of time. On a smaller, but no less fascinating scale, Joanna Marple generally asks the illustrators she interviews in her current Wednesday blog series about their creative space.

I have had a variety of writing spaces over the years, from writing on my lap as I sat watching television, to a desk in the corner of the living room, to my present situation of having an extra bedroom which has been turned into a writing room. I am so grateful that now that I am no longer working outside the home, I have a work space that is conducive to creativity inside my home. I’ve recently done some reorganizing, and although it’s not perfect, I wanted to share it with you.

I have gone from scribbling on my knee with the television on to preferring complete quiet when I write — not even music playing. After years of working in a cubicle where I faced a wall of some sort, I far prefer having my desk situated so that I look out into the room. Although anyone who knows me knows that I can easily mess up a space, I feel most comfortable when there is order and clear space around me. Come in to my writing room —

Different draperies will be hung before long — the window faces east, and the sun streams in, concentrating itself on me at my desk chair in the morning, sometimes to the extent that I have to pick up the laptop and go elsewhere in the apartment to work for a while. The desk was my Dad’s. Although it isn’t the perfect computer desk, it creates a sense of connection to use it — and my budget is currently earmarked for things other than new furniture. The bed, which I valiantly pretend is a daybed, is a hospital-style bed I purchased for my mother when one of the nursing homes where she sojourned didn’t provide an adjustable bed. The toy dogs (and a small toy cat on one of the bookcases) are the closest I can come to having real animals around, and they help to make it feel like a child-friendly room for a writer whose repertoire includes children’s books.

The closet door currently displays little bits of inspiration, in the form of cards or words of encouragement. In fact, all around the room you will see things that bring me joy or provide inspiration. Even when my writing space was just a desk in the corner of the living room, I liked to have a few objects on the desk that provided inspiration.

Until recently, the printer was in another room, and I’d carry the laptop to it. It’s lovely to have it at arm’s reach. The little airfield in the middle of the desk is comprised of tiny airplanes I gave Dad over the years. They used to reside on one of the bookcase shelves, but when I reorganized, they were displaced. I set them on the desk while I was organizing, and discovered that not only does having an airfield filled with biplanes on my desk make me smile, but it also prevents me from stacking papers all over the desk. This is a good thing, since I can turn into a paper-stacker extraordinaire with very little provocation.

As you can see, the desk was designed in an era when personal computers were only a thing of science fiction. The tray on which Mackie resides (and which used to serve as a keyboard tray when I had a full size desktop computer) is one of the shelves from my bookcase balanced on the top drawers of the desk. Because of carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis in my right hand, I mouse with my left. That’s handy when I want to write anything as I can put a notebook to the right of Mackie. (I am right-handed when it comes to handwriting, although I avoid handwriting as much as possible.)

Those of you who have seen photos of my writing room before may notice a rearrangement of the books on the shelves. The bookcase I face as I write now holds my DVD and CD collection, with music on the lower shelf. The bookcase on the right (which Dog seems to be rather lazily guarding) holds picture books, middle grade novels, some writing books, and more music. Note to members of the Children’s Book Hub — the picture book shelf still has a space reserved for publications of Hub members. I’m sure you will note various items that inspire me daily to “let my creative sparkle out.”

Thank you for visiting my writing room today — I’ve enjoyed sharing it with you. I hope you’ll visit again on Wednesday, when Alexander Technique practitioner and teacher, Imogen Ragone of Body Intelligence, talks to us about how we can make whatever space we write in more comfortable and more conducive to the flow of creative ideas.

Do you have a room, a corner, a spot of some sort, that allows you to let your creative sparkle out?

22 People reacted on this

    1. That sounds fantastic, Erik! You will enjoy having that space so very much! (And thanks for the comment about the airfield!)

  1. I’ve confiscated a corner of the living room. It’s a tiny desk just big enough for my paying gig laptop – for the times I have to bring work home – and my passion laptop. It bears the marks of coffee stains and late nights staying up a bit too long, but it’s still standing…for now lol!! Beside that is a table of chaos, filled with notes and lots of books i eventually hope to read and library books I get for my daughter. One day, maybe, I’ll get a designated spot just for my writing.

    I do love your space. So much of it has inspiration all around.

    1. That corner sounds like a great space, Angela — and it’s obviously working, as your creativity abounds. Thanks so much!

    1. There’s always an organizational challenge or two lurking. I’ve been working very hard on my entire apartment to get it to a stage of serenity and peace. I’m getting there! (I don’t have a kiddo to deal with, which makes a huge difference. But then, I don’t have a kiddo to brighten the day, either…)

      Wow — thank you for that link. It looks fascinating (even without the $50k award)!

  2. Your space is so tidy. Looks cozy. I work in the den and have too mank books and stacks of paper. Need to clean out the files in the desk to give me more room. But, it’s where I work.

    1. I’ve worked for a long time on the whole apartment to get it to this tidy and serene state, Pat. Books and stacks of paper are an inevitable by product of being a writer, I believe. Good that you have a den to work in, books and paper notwithstanding.

  3. I used to have an office in our basement, but I found it too cold down there in the winter. Plus, it was our only connection to the Internet, and with two teenagers, we didn’t want to make it too private for them. Now the desk and computer take up a spot in our living room where everyone can see. I only write when the family is not at home or when everyone is preoccupied elsewhere in the house, so it works for me.

    I love seeing other people’s writing spaces – thanks for sharing yours!

    1. Definitely basements are not optimal for all of the reasons you cite! I’m glad your writing space works for you. Thanks for visiting mine!

  4. Your room has certainly changed over time.. I like it! I am still using the kitchen table, being now winter it is closest to the heater and warmth, even though I have to remove laptop and all writing material when visitors arrive. I could use a spare room, but I like company these days.

    1. Thanks, Diane. I can visualize you sitting at your table, working away. Being in the midst of everything has its advantages, too.

  5. An interesting concept, Beth…thanks for sharing your space with us! My inspirational environment is called the “Victorian Sitting Room”. It’s quiet and inviting…

  6. I have always had a writing space in our home. Sometimes smaller, sometimes larger. Usually in the basement, but not always. But I have lived by my writing, either sermons as minister, or stories as free-lance writer. In retirement, we have a three-bedroom apartment, with the smallest bedroom being my study. I have a lot fewer books than before, so things seem to fit.
    The only significant difference between my room and yours is that I have my desk against a wall. IO was told a log time ago that the agains-the-wall position leads for fewer distractions.
    Interesting way in which you have put your dad’s desk to work. Well done!

    1. Rob-bear! It’s so good to see you!

      Thanks for telling us about your writing space — I think I’d always be looking over my shoulder if I was facing a wall! 😉

  7. I like your writing space. It is calming and somehow uplifting. A big contrast to the mess-in-progress I work in – my brother’s old bedroom, which became a storage room for all my extra stuff when I moved back home, and now it looks like a giant filing cabinet ate something nasty and tossed its cookies all over the floor. I have discovered that it’s hard to find serenity or focus when you are drowning in papers and clutter. I used to work at the kitchen table but that was a bad idea because it was full of distractions, namely food.

    I like the idea of a desk not facing the wall. I’m not sure if my study has enough floorspace to manage that, or if I have enough ingenuity to plan the best arrangement, though.

    I’ve missed your blog and now I am going to try catching up. *miao purrs*

    1. Thank you, LittleM! I love your description of your working room! But yes, I concur that serenity and focus do not grow out of such an environment. Wish I could come over and help you transform your space!

      I’ve missed you around here, too. Good to have you back. *hugs and skritches* (just hugs for you. skritching a human would be a bit odd…)

      1. Thanks! I’ll save the skritches for Kemi and the other furry Miaos.

        I need to resolve to spend 30 min/day organizing stuff and I am sure it would be transformed in no time. I like it when things are organized, it’s just the getting there that’s the problem.

  8. Beth! What a wonderful place! A supportive and LOVELY environment..and it’s full of things that bring you good memories. Seems like you have everything in one spot, which is super because when tools and equipment are in separate rooms we can easily be distracted. Well, I can. Maybe you’re most self-disciplined.
    Paper-stacker! HA!! Yes…me, too. It’s tough to fight that, but you came up with a dandy solution!
    Thank you for sharing this!!!!

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