When I was in my last year of university, my early Canadian literature professor invited the whole class to his home for a potluck of traditional Canadian food. I made an apple crisp that, by the time I arrived, didn’t look so crispy after sliding around in my back seat for way too long. Towards the end of the evening, he lead us down to his basement. It wasn’t a particularly high basement and not brightly lit. It wasn’t particularly beautiful in any way. Except for this: it was full of books. Snaking aisles of books stacked on makeshift, overflowing bookshelves, one after another, after another. And, tucked into the corner, a desk. It was all he needed: a room full of books and a little desk.
When I first embarked on my NaNoWriMo journey (NaNoWhat? Catch up! I’m writing a novel!), I had big plans to turn our dining room into a writing room. After all, I need a good place to write, right? For the first few days, I did write in the dining room. I dragged my pretty upholstered chair up to the table, piled it high with pillows and encouraged the kitty to sit on my lap while I typed away. It was a good place to write: separated from the house, but not so far away that I felt alone, away from the distraction of the TV, but no so far from the steady spousal presence watching said TV.
I got a lot of words written in those first few days, on that first weekend.
And then, I started taking my laptop along with me to work, bundling it into my bag, pulling it out on the subway and writing like mad for my 20 minute jaunt north. I get a lot of words written this way, so many, in fact, that in the evenings, I only need to write about 300 words. Somewhere along the way, I stopped sequestering myself and started pecking away at my word count in the evenings while watching old episodes of the X-Files on Netflix with the Husband.
Then, on Sunday, I attended a write-in I was invited to at the Random House offices in downtown Toronto. I sat in a proper chair for four hours and didn’t get a sore bum. I sat at a board room table of an appropriate height. I plugged in my headphones and listened to some random Songza channel. Four hours. 3600 words. I left with a new appreciation for an appropriate writing environment.
Unfortunately, as pretty as they are, it’s not likely that any one of these offices or writing desks would cut it. Ergonomically comfortable chairs are not what I call attractive. My little club chair doesn’t cut it, being both too short and too squishy to sit properly at a desk. One day, when I have a dedicated office space, I’ll invest in one of those ugly, uber-comfy office chairs. I’ll fill the room with books and all the other little things that make me happy but don’t necessarily fit into the scheme of the rest of the house.
Do you have a dedicated office? What do you need in order to be the most productive, the most creative you can be?