Last week, a small writing desk was on sale at Wal-Mart.
There were some years (not so very long ago) when a $50 purchase was out of the question in our household. We were living on entry-level journalism wages. Splurging on luxuries like writing desks weren’t an option when we were trying to get by on a two-week $50 grocery budget.
Those days are behind us, but I find myself still reluctant to buy without plenty of thought. So I went home and asked myself, “Do I really need a writing desk?”
At first, I thought it was unnecessary. After all, my last book was written without a desk.
In fact, much of it was written on the futon with my feet propped on the ottoman and the laptop (fittingly) on my lap.
I liked writing in the bedroom on rainy days, listening to the patter of water on the front porch awning. Those days, I propped myself against pillows and wrote until my back ached.
Sometimes I sat on the couch and pulled the coffee table close so I could hunch forward and type there. That was sort of like having a desk.
But those writing sessions tended to be filled with shifting and repositioning to get comfortable. Often the cat would wedge himself on my lap between the computer and my stomach, requiring an awkward typing session around him. (Not to mention fur in the keyboard.) Tools of the trade never seemed to be at hand, either. The dictionary was left on the coffee table while I was writing on the futon. Post-It notes were on the bedside table when I needed them during a coffee table writing session.
Creativity also had a way of getting evicted from those spaces. If I was on a role while sitting in bed and the husband needed to get sleep for work the next day, I would pack up and transfer to another room, only to find it difficult to get restarted. If I was writing at the coffee table and a football game was on, I either had to write through the distraction or go elsewhere. And if Webster decided he absolutely had to be on my lap while writing on the futon, there was no deterring him.
Did I need a writing desk? Not necessarily a desk, but having a space of my own definitely was a nice idea.
Every writer needs a space: somewhere distraction-free, comfortable, and conducive to the craft.
So I went back to the store and bought a made-in-America writing desk. (Some assembly required.)
A writing surface isn’t the same as writing space, though. Luckily I have a husband who humors my crazy writing habits and didn’t object when I evaluated the house, finally deciding that the best place for a desk was our back room. It has two windows, and having the desk along the north wall would give me views into our side yard to the north and back yard to the east. Plus, I like writing by natural light. (Mid to late afternoon is my peak writing time; I love writing at the time of day when colors get deeper and the sun casts long shadows.)
I decided I needed that space.
The problem? A half-broken dresser was in the way.
Husband agreed I could tear apart and dispose of the old dresser, then buy a new dresser and assemble it in our bedroom, transferring all of the old dresser’s contents into the new dresser or a closet.
In place of the old dresser, we bought and built a small TV stand to accommodate the TV and DVD player that formerly sat on the dresser. Then, at long last, we assembled the desk.
At the moment, the space is undecorated. It’s home to a printer, a laptop, and a coaster. But it already has proven to be productive. It is distraction-free, gets great afternoon light, and doesn’t require transplanting to make room for sleepers, cats, or football-watchers.
Not to mention it’s comfortable. I can stay put for hours and work.
My new writing space has proven to be a success so far. Sunday afternoon in my writing corner produced Chapter One of my next book.
Now I just need to deactivate Facebook and Twitter for a while to be really productive …