Check out some famous people’s workspaces:
Some people say they can write anywhere. They prove it by sitting in public with their laptops while life goes on around them, sometimes noisily, happily tapping away or even scribbling in a notebook with an old-fashioned ballpoint pen (mercy!). Others must have complete silence, or at least its approximation, and an isolated room before they can concentrate.
The space doesn’t matter, as long as it’s compatible with the individual writer’s needs. If you have a family you may have to adopt a room or an alcove in a busy house and call it your own and make a rule about when Mommy’s door is shut, she is not to be disturbed. Conversely, if you live alone, you can move around the house or even take the laptop in the backyard without fear of being disturbed. You can write in a treehouse, if that’s the best place for you.
What are some of the elements that make a good writing space?
- It should be comfortable. Whether that means a nice squishy office chair, all blanketed up on the couch or in bed, or the recliner in the den, you shouldn’t have to think about physical discomfort when you write. The temperature should not be extreme; too cold and you can’t type, too warm and it’s hard to concentrate.
- Your supplies should be at hand. I learned this in college when writing papers. Most people who have a dedicated office already have everything organized. If you are making do with a corner of the kitchen or family room, make sure before you start that your materials are right there. It’s a pain to have to get up and fetch a book or load the printer. Check before you sit down so interruptions stay at a minimum.
- Not too cluttered. It’s hard to work amidst piles of teetering pages, books, scattered receipts, rolling pencils, etc. The mess starts to get to you and you might stop working and start cleaning. Or, you could end up berating yourself for your lack of organization and retire in self-defeat.
- Noise levels. I work better when I have something to ignore, usually music or sometimes the TV, set on low. You might want a more quiet space, or enjoy playing thrash metal while you pen your latest tome. Doesn’t matter if it’s loud or soft; whatever helps you get into your trance state. If you like working in public, your tolerance to noise is probably pretty good.
- Good lighting. You can’t work if you can’t see, and straining your eyes will give you a headache. If you work on a computer, take frequent breaks from looking at the screen. Even moving your eyes to a different part of the room will give them ease. Don’t make the screen too bright, either. Most computers let you adjust that either on the monitor itself or in the Control Panel.
You know to print out a hard copy for editing, right? Not only will it rest your eyes, but people cannot read effectively on a computer screen for a length of time. (Kindles aren’t the same, or so I hear. I wouldn’t know because I’m not spending $400 on something I can’t take into the tub with me.)
All of this holds true for homework, if you’re a student. A good study space will help your grades immeasurably. My writing center is on the couch, under a blanket, with the TV on and music playing in my headphones. I used to do homework there before I finished school. I can adapt; I’ve written at work, at lunch and at my desk during downtime. The headphones are a must so I can block out any noise from outside or other people, like in the lunchroom.
I haven’t tried working in a coffee shop or other public venue; I might when I get a smaller netbook with a better battery. For now, the couch is comfy and since I don’t have a roommate or spouse at the moment, it’s easy to concentrate.
Wherever you work, remember that it is your sacred space, to be used for writing only if you can manage that. If you keep it so, when you sit down you’ll be ready to go. If you don’t have a dedicated space, have preparations that get you into the groove.
What’s the best place for you to work and why? Let us know in the comments.