And now, a brief history of my workspaces:
Age 8-11: a tiny white wicker desk with one little drawer and a glass top. A twee piece we probably should have saved to sell to manic pixie dreamgirls on Etsy, but in our defense, neither Etsy nor MPDGs existed yet.
Age 11-18: a blank white door laid flat across two filing cabinets. Grungy, practical, and enormous, this allowed me to never throw anything away (just start a new pile! there’s still room!).
Age 18-22: the basic wood desk offered in college dorms. Very heavy, not very pretty, much less accommodating to my multitudes of piles.
Age 22-24: the couch. When that got boring, or rather when the TV got too distracting, I piled up a few huge pillows nearby to form a reading nook, which became more or less a cat bed after a while.
When we moved to Vancouver, we decided our apartment would be our home for the duration. That meant finally got some pieces of furniture that grown-ups are expected to have, like a kitchen table and dressers that matched each other. The only space that still needed help was the office, which could more accurately be described as the room we fed the cat in. It was time we developed an actual workspace for the office, with a proper desk and everything.
I had a wish list for it:
1) Comfortable. Obviously a $2,000 ergonomic chair wasn’t an option, but a desk that didn’t force petite little me to work with my shoulders all hunched up was a plus. We found a nifty Ikea corner desk that allows me to spread out just the right amount.
2) Good storage, but no wide spaces. The Ikea desk is petite, but it has nice shelves and cupboards to keep things tidy. My filing cabinets handle the rest. Most importantly, the desktop has a small surface area, which requires me to stay on top of my clutter.
3) Decorated for inspiration. I wanted to be able to surround myself with the images and quotes that inspire me, and to have my old writing and notes on hand for ideas.
4) Good lighting. Once summer ended, we discovered that the office gets zero sunlight. It isn’t pleasant. Even the cheerful little red lamp couldn’t kill off the feeling like I was writing in a small, dark, albeit warm and well-maintained cave, with a litter box in the closet.
So one day we rearranged the living room and moved the desk out there.
(This is tidy, by the way. Just because there isn’t much space to put my crud, doesn’t mean I don’t fill all that available space.)
My writing briefcase sits next to it on the floor. I’m not sure why I’ve kept so much of my old writing because the vast majority of it probably sucks, but I don’t want to get rid of it. What if one day I flip through and realize that the story I wrote in fourth grade about a haunted hotel which was definitely not based on the recently-visited Tower of Terror in Disney World is actually a great idea for a YA trilogy? (Actually, I’m pretty sure I threw that one away. The kindergarten story about an aging dog who goes on a quest for a mystical diamond is probably still around, though.)
Everything in my direct line of sight is for inspiration. The books on the shelves get my brain going. The art is stuff I’ve actually done, which reminds me that I can and have accomplished creative works, even if they’re small. The magnetic poetry keeps me thinking even when I feel like I’m just procrastinating.
Theoretically this desk and all its personalized goodness means no more obstacles to getting stuff done, but there’s usually at least one:
Do you have a designated workspace? What’s it like? What are your priorities for a productive work area?