One of the most best things I did this year was create a dedicated space to write. By creating that area, I carved out a physical and mental place that helped reinforce my writing and work habits tremendously.
I know many writers and people who work from home who end up sprawled out on the kitchen table. Or writing in bed or on the couch. Hey, whatever works for you.
For me, consistency with daily writing didn’t come until I created that solo space. My wife and I both work from home and we have two kids. Over the years, our bedroom became an office, a nursery, and then a nursery again. Sleeping babies are not great writing partners.
I filled up my bindle and set out into the wild. A work nomad. I preferred the library or a coffee shop. I still like to get out and about every now and again. The energy of having people around feels cozy. But the cost for coziness is focus and travel time. And once the pandemic hit, working outside the home was off the board. I had to return home.
We’re fortunate enough to have a small utility room crammed with our washer/dryer and a bunch of cabinets. I’m a bit of a DIYer and master procrastinator so blowing off work to retrofit the remaining space with a desk was quite a pleasure.
The room is downstairs so I can isolate myself from the chaos of parenthood, close a door and focus. But I’m also close enough where I can pop up from time to time and snag a hug. The cozy, closed-in feeling helps with focus too.
Biggest drawback? No windows. Normally, I feel claustrophobic when I can’t see sunshine. But after a lot of research, I figured out a basic lighting setup to offset the lack of natural light. I have a lamp with a daytime bulb that diffuses light softly through the room. It’s bright, diffuse and very pleasant. Whatever you do, steer clear of overhead fluorescent lights if you can.
Like any craft, having that space where you know work happens is key. It sets a tone whenever you enter that space. You know on a gut level you’re there for work and nothing else. I keep things that are inspiring close by: pictures of my family, my guitars, a Tony Gwynn bobblehead.
Since I moved in, I’ve seen my productivity go through the roof. It’s easier to focus and it’s nice to have a place where I can leave my work out. I can sit down and dive back in without having to set up anything.
I’m very lucky I was able to carve out this space. I realize not everyone has this luxury. Sometimes the bed or kitchen table or couch is what you have. In that case, I would recommend finding some way to make that space your own (even if it’s temporary) while you’re writing.
Light a candle. Put on music. Setup a picture. Plug in some headphones. Use the same chair. Any kind of cue that lets you know that it’s time to write. If you can, try and hit it at the same time of day.
And sometimes people are just more comfortable at the kitchen table or couch. My dad refuses to get a desk at home. He would much rather spread out on the table, be near my mom and a bathroom. But he still makes that space his. He has his music, his fancy pens, a very gross water cup.
All of if helps if it gets into a mindset for work.