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A Desk of One’s Own

One of my favorite authors is Virginia Woolf. Her fiction works are like poetry on the page. She also so richly explores the human consciousness. I even rock this Virginia Woolf tote bag every day. It has Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse on it, both favorites. But I also love her nonfiction. She’s so powerful in her essays and so poignant. I hardly find myself disagreeing with Woolf.

One of the first nonfiction essays I read of hers was A Room of One’s Own where she argues that:

Virginia Woolf quote from  A Room of One's Own

In a whole book, she paints a narrative picture of why women need to have money and a room of their own to write. Because women can and should write.

Woolf tackles some bitter realities too. No person, but no woman especially, can make art when they are hungry. When they don’t have a place to sleep. When they are in danger. That’s why you need two things: money (to live and be self sufficient) and space of your own.

In one sense, I imagine a high society lady of means and a great big day room. Um, yes. How I wish I was a part of the landed gentry. Lounging in my country estate, sipping tea, eating cakes, and writing all day long in pure luxury.

On the other hand, I think it can be much simpler than that. It’s much simpler for me! It’s about having a space of your own and enough money to supply your passion, your art. And for a millennial like me, that means a desk of one’s own.

My goal was to make a space at home where I could work. I know lots of writers who love working at coffee shops so they don’t become distracted by their own house and the chores they have to do. For me, it’s just not practical to always leave the house when I want to write. Firstly, I’d have to drive at least ten minutes to get somewhere and secondly, it seems like a hassle. Not to mention my laptop needs an outlet to function. So that’s why I felt like I had to make a place for myself at my house. Because working on the couch or sitting on my bed just wasn’t working for me.

I’m a semi-ridiculous person. I moved my desk from my bedroom into the middle of the living room. Why? Because I needed a defined workspace. My bedroom is for sleeping and dressing. It’s not the right environment for writing. I designated a small space that is for work. And just that simple act of creating an area for work has transformed my focus.

But honestly, it’s not ridiculous at all. You need your own workspace. Wherever you can carve out that space even if it’s a table at a coffee shop, a corner of a library, or a picnic bench in the park. In this modern age where we are constantly moving around, always busy, we sometimes need to tell ourselves, “When I’m at this place, I’m working.”

Depending on your art, you might need more or less money to supply it. As a writer, I’m lucky that I only need a laptop and some paper and pens to write. After reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (my review here) I was inspired to not burden my art (my writing) by requiring it to make me money. What Gilbert and Woolf said is that we need money to live. So as I work my day job to pay the bills, I will continue to live my passion in the evenings.

Carving out a space for myself has allowed me to make more time to write. If I pass my desk on the way to watch TV, I can reconsider just what I’m spending my time doing. I could write another blog post about making time for writing.

But for me, it all really came together when I moved my desk into the middle of the living room. When I placed my small white wooden desk in front of a window. The combination of natural light, a pleasant view, and a comfortable environment (temperature wise) was a simple yet transformational act for diminishing distractions. I already had the desk and just placing it in an optimal space gave me inspiration. And I’m happy to report that the inspiration hasn’t stopped yet.

So all you really need is a desk of one’s own.

What about you? Do you have a designated space to work where you live? Can you work from anywhere? I’d love to hear how you focus on writing at home!

Happy Writing-

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