Maybe the folks over at The Daily Post picked up on my somewhat obsessive thoughts on this very topic over the past week. Here’s their writing prompt for today:
A genie has granted your wish to build your perfect space for reading and writing. What’s it like?
I already told you about my ideal reading space in Wednesday’s Haven post, as it would be part of my chick cave (I still don’t know the correct name for the female equivalent of the man cave). But don’t be misled into thinking that room is the only place I would be happy reading. I would (and do) read in the bathtub, in bed, in the car, on the sofa, at the kitchen table, at my desk, on the patio, in the coffee shop, at the beach, on a bench in the park…there’s really no place that’s off-limits when I’m in the middle of a good book.
However, I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that my writing space really does need some thought. I’m currently writing in my office, at my regular desk, surrounded by the detritus of everyday life—there are some tax documents that need to be scanned, there’s a folder that contains half-baked ideas for next week’s English lessons, there’s a half-compiled grocery list—all plotting to divert my attention away from writing. I think I’d like a separate area within my current office devoted solely to writing.
So, Mr. Genie, here’s my plan.
The most important component in this space is my desk, so I’ll use the student desk my mother lovingly finished for me when I was in high school, the one that is now masquerading as dressing table in the spare room. It is smaller than my regular day-to-day desk, so I’d have less surface area on which to pile distractions. I’m thinking I’ll need a lamp, a coaster for my mug of tea, my laptop, and nothing else. In the top center drawer, you should put a notepad, a pencil, an eraser, a couple of pens, a highlighter, some Post-it flags, a pair of scissors, and a roll of Scotch tape. The top left drawer should be stocked with healthy snacks (dark chocolate counts, so make sure there’s lots of that) and a supply of paper napkins and wet wipes. The middle drawer is going to stay empty for now, but eventually I’ll use it to store back-up CDs of my work. The large bottom drawer that was originally meant for file folders will be my inspiration drawer—photos, snippets cut from magazines, little trinkets, anything that looks like it could spark a story can go in there so I can sift through it when the muse has left me. You can put a box of tissues and an old-fashioned, yet current, dictionary and thesaurus on the shelf to the right of the desk’s kneehole; I love the convenience of the online references, but it is too tempting to also check email or log into Facebook or Google something while the browser is open…
I’m not sure about the chair for this desk. If I decide to keep the original straight-backed chair that came with it, I will definitely need a new seat cushion. The desk is too small for a big cushy office chair, but a small padded chair with wheels and pneumatic height adjustment might be nice. Of course, a big bouncy stability ball might be even better—I could burn a few calories and tone my core trying to avoid rolling off in an unglorified heap.
Under the desk, I’d appreciate a small heated rug, or a tiny electric space heater. I have such a hard time concentrating when my feet are cold.
The walls in the room should be painted something other than standard off-white. The pale blue in my current office is kind of nice, but I also like the warm, subdued yellow of my husband’s office. I’ll need to think about this and get back to you on the color scheme. I’d like the desk to face the corner, please, so I’m not tempted to stare out the window at the birds in the trees or the neighbors walking by instead of concentrating on the computer screen. Directly in front of me, please mount a shelf that will support a brightly painted pot with a healthy green philodendron dribbling several long, exploratory tendrils over the edge. Attach my Pecksniff horse brass to the bottom of the shelf, so he can glare disapprovingly at me through the leafy curtain of the philodendron when I slack off. (I didn’t know anything about this Charles Dickens character when I bought the brass, but just one look at his imperious gaze and I knew he’d be a stern taskmaster. How sad is it that I’m such people pleaser that an inanimate stare from a cast metal visage can keep me in line?) There’s got to be a corkboard just at the edge of my peripheral vision, so I can pin up meaningful quotes and colorful odds and ends for motivational purposes.
I’ll need my room to be fairly quiet. A ticking clock is nice (I find it soothing, rather than demanding) and I could probably write to the sound of waves or rain from a noise machine. Music is too distracting, though, so don’t leave a radio or iPod in easy reach of my writing desk; I get too wrapped up in deciphering the artists’ lyrics to pay any heed to my own words struggling to reach the page.
Looking back over this wish list, Mr. Genie, I see there really isn’t much you can do that I can’t do myself to create an ideal writing space. It seems I can repurpose items I am already familiar and comfortable with in the square footage I’ve already got. Your role was apparently to make me take the time to stop and think about how to make my surroundings more conducive to productive writing, so I guess your work here is done…off you go to grant the design wishes of the next aspiring writer. I’ve got furniture to rearrange!