Man Booker Prize-winning novelist Yann Martel once described how “totally dull” the space he uses to write is: “It’s a table with a computer, that’s it,” he said. “I have little pieces of paper next to me that are my little notes, and that’s it. Otherwise, I could be an accountant for, you know, as far as my desk, you couldn’t tell that I’m a writer.”
Like Martel, I prefer writing at a sparse desk so I can focus on the words in front of me. I was curious if others felt the same, so I asked five bloggers to take photos of their writing spaces and describe how they work in them.
Kate Herman, Foreign Haven
Kate is a writer who teaches English in Prague.
I have this unfounded notion that my most brilliant thoughts spill from my pen while I romantically sip a cappuccino at the local bohemian cafe. The truth is that I am most productive while lounging sluggishly in bed, laptop perched on my knees and a beer stein of lukewarm tea at my side. My desk is only slightly less motivating, but I find I associate this space more with procrastination than productivity. They say you should never associate your bed with your work or you will have difficulty falling asleep, but for me, my bed is the best place to do both. I dream with a creative recklessness that perhaps awake-me needs to learn from. So I suppose it’s there, stretched out in my bed with my laptop ready and my tea getting cold, that I’m a little closer to those dreams — and that creativity.
Lauren is a Brooklyn-based writer and senior editor at New York Family magazine.
This is the desk where I write, in a corner of my bedroom. My mom’s friend bought the desk in the ’70s to use while she was getting her graduate degree in Asian Studies. The chair is from the dining set my parents bought for their first apartment together. It’s not very comfortable, but that helps me focus.
I should probably get blinds for the window — especially since it looks directly at my bed — but I like having an uncluttered view across the street, though I’ve accidentally made eye contact with the guy across the way. Sometimes he climbs all the way out of his window to have a cigarette on his fire escape. Sometimes pigeons land on the fire escape railing and just stare at me. I stare back until they fly away. I keep birthday cards and Christmas cards on the windowsill; it’s nice to have something validating nearby while I’m working.
Luke Luby, Tattered Media
Luke is an Irish journalist based in Cork City, Ireland, and the founder of Tattered Media.
Working from home on a somewhat part-time basis (if you can even call it part-time) can be somewhat troublesome, especially if you’re working a job on a full- or part-time basis, and you’ve got relatives in the house. This can be especially troublesome if you’ve got some difficulty coming up with inspiration for the written word.
However, not all of us need to live the exceptional lifestyles of Christopher Hitchens or Hunter S. Thompson in order to find a large amount of potential inspiration; on my left lies books by everyone from Hitchens to Bram Stoker, and behind me lies a literary feast. My point being: writing from home, or working from home in any capacity, doesn’t need to be much of a feat; simply try, and it should happen. If that fails, read and try again.
Kimberly Pauig, Friday Madness
Kimberly is a Filipina who likes to capture photographs as much as she savors sleep.
I share the space with my 13-year-old sister. Mine is on the right, while my sister’s on the left. The color of the wall is in bright yellow since my mom read that yellow stimulates the brain. Posted on the wall are some of my recent watercolor paintings, and my boyfriend’s landscape drawing in ink, which I change from time to time when I finish new artworks. I like working in spaces where there’s a splash of colors, and quiet surroundings.
Susan Barber, Teach With Class
Susan is a high school English teacher and blogger who hopes to inspire parents and educators to invest in the next generation and encourage them to live worthwhile lives.
Related Reading: At The Daily Post, four bloggers reflect on the physical and mental space they need to write.
I am a teacher by day and writer by night. When I settle into writing at the end of a day’s work, exercise, and household responsibilities, the last place I want to be is at a desk, so my writing place is probably a little more unconventional than most. Some people work at places with inspiration boards and materials around them, but I seek a place free from distraction allowing me to be alone with my thoughts and the blank page.
A soft leather chair, blanket — regardless of the time of year — and computer in the quiet of the night are all I need to write. The stripped down environment allows me to tap into my creativity and reflect on the ideas that have been swimming in my head all day.
The less-is-more setting for my writing space translates to more thoughts, more ideas, and more words on the page.
For more on how writers, photographers, and artists work, check out our interview series.