Posted in Writing

I Need Space

deskI’ll be moving soon. Nothing major. No huge life changes. We’re moving from an apartment in Raleigh to an apartment in neighboring Durham—mostly to cut down on expenses and to drastically shorten the morning commute. And as I’m boxing up books, and throwing out stuff I haven’t used since the last move, I’m realizing that this move presents certain challenges and opportunities regarding writing.

I have come to the conclusion that my current writing space isn’t working.

But let me take a moment to correctly state the problem:

Like most of us, I have plenty of obstacles that get in the way of writing. Some of them are real, while some of them are undoubtedly intracranially-exaggerated to make myself feel better about why I’m not as productive as I feel I should be. This writing space problem is a real problem. I just don’t know how much of one. But I’m under no delusions that it will be a panacea, and as soon as I clean off my desk, I’ll start cranking out novels.

Here’s the issue:

The desk that I found many years ago in a thrift store, that quickly became my writing desk, has been taken over by life, and is now perpetually crowded by a laptop, USB hub, speakers, a trackball, bills and the detritus that always seems to collect in the places where we spend most of our time.

Now, when I want to write on the computer, this all works reasonably well. Generally, I can move the bills somewhere else in one bundle, turn off the wireless adapter for a little while—maybe put on some ambient music…maybe not—and things are fine. But increasingly, I find the computer a terrible distraction when writing. Even discounting the social and recreational diversions, sometimes when I’m sitting in front of my laptop it’s pretty hard to convince myself that I shouldn’t be doing something else—like designing that website that I agreed to do or reading over that story that a friend is waiting on.

Increasingly, when I’m in the mood to be creative, I’ve been closing the laptop altogether. Admittedly, this has as much to do with limiting distractions as it does with my renewed interest in an old hobby—fountain pens. But regardless of the reasons, the upshot is that if I want to put some ink on the page I need a place to put a notebook. And look at that desk…it’s just not going to happen.

So do I go through the time and expense of getting a new desk (and I’m really not sure where to put it)? Or do I ban my computer, and all its accoutrements, to someplace else, and keep my little desk covered in paper, pens and inks?

This is going to require some thought.

3 thoughts on “I Need Space

  1. Consider yourself lucky, Dale. A big move gives you an opportunity to toss all kinds of garbage, from stuff you have no idea why you saved in the first place to bad habits that have become entrenched and are misdirecting your life. Organize your new home with a new focus on what’s important and make that include not only where to put furniture but how to motivate yourself to achieve the goals that really inspire you to, well, move. Best of luck and let us know how it works out.


  2. It’s a tricky thing, this desk space stuff. I can’t have a ton of things on my desk and still be productive… the whole “cluttered desk, cluttered mind” thing. That said, if it’s too clean and open, I can’t work, either.

    I’m beginning to wonder if it ends up just being an excuse for me, either way… like I’m seeking perfection in my environment in order to even be able to make an attempt at writing.


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