A Room of My Own

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” ― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

I don’t believe Ms. Woolf’s assessment is true; in fact, J.K. Rowling has rather resoundingly shot it down. However, when I stumbled across this excellent photo essay on the small writing “sheds” of famous writers (in the equally excellent blog “re-nest”, a tribute to green home design) I started thinking about where I – and the other writers I know – do our work.


Some of my friends write at cafés (ala Rowling) or at their day job, during lunch or when things are slow. Some work on laptops in easy chairs or on their couch, others write things out longhand before typing it. And some – like me – have a designated office space where nearly all our work is done.

(I say nearly, because I often cook up new scenes or do some mental editing or work out a plot issue in bed in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, in my car when I’m driving to pick up my kids, or when I’m pushing a cart around the grocery store. I know some writers who keep notepads or recording devices handing for these flashes of insight, but I don’t. I’ve learned over the years that if I’m meant to retain whatever it is I’m musing about, I will. If I can’t remember it later, it’s probably not worth remembering.)

My office space is occasionally (and by permission only) used by my sons for their homework or my husband for household business. But, by and large, the work that happens here is creative and it’s mine. Sure, I’ve written wherever and whenever I can steal space and time, but I’m lucky enough not to have to do that at the moment.

For me, that’s a huge blessing. Because the work I do here, in a specifically designated place during specifically designated times (i.e., the hours when my sons are away at school and the house is quiet) is the best work I’ve ever done. I’m a creature of habit and a lover of rituals, and when I come to this desk, my brain knows it’s time to work and my heart sings – because I love to write.

And I believe that love, that passion for story and words, is really the only thing a writer must have.

But I do love my office. 🙂

Tell me – where do you do your best creative work? And whose “writing shack” do you like best? (I’m torn between the romance of Virginia Woolf’s and the slick, stylish organization of Michael Pollan’s.)


19 responses to “A Room of My Own

  1. I love Roald Dahl’s Gipsy house. I’m particularly in love with the outside, it reminds me of the garden shed some friends of my parents had in England. We’d go there every boxing day(Dec 26) for the afternoon, it was a great hiding place to read.

  2. Well I’ve got my office back. *laughs* But I can (and do) write pretty much anywhere.


  3. I’m with KB – I can (and do) write almost anywhere. I love my desk, but luckily I don’t have to use it. I tend to write the beginning of everything by hand, and then when I’m stuck I go back to that. I’ve written whole novels by hand and I do my best work that way – the only ritual is the right paper (recycled yellow lined 8 1/2 by 11 pads) and the right pen – so the ink sinks into the paper – gel pens for me. But I can write with any paper or pen if I have to. Good thing, too!


    • It is a good thing, indeed! 🙂

      I can’t write by hand, though I love the romance of it. My pen can’t keep up with my brain and my fingers cramp unbearaby after fifteen minutes or so, even when I use an ergo pen. Boohoo.


  4. Great blog! I would like to tell you that my best work comes from sitting in my office while I’m drinking hot tea, but I can’t. My creative moments happen when I’m not even thinking about writing, for example: doing the dishes, taking a shower and sometimes while I’m in the grocery store. I jot down notes on my phone and then email them to myself so that when I get home I can get to work.

    Good luck to you!

  5. eden baylee (@edenbaylee)

    I agree that ideas can come at any time, and can’t be confined to one room, but sitting my butt down at my dining room table certainly gets the writing down. Most days, I don’t get up till the work is done, and that can make for a very sore butt.


  6. Although I have a wonderful bookshelf-lined office with windows on the world, it’s not the place I write. Perhaps that’s because I check email, surf the ‘Net and do accounting there. When I pause to consider where I do write, lots of places come to mind. I write in cafés. I write under my portal (Spanish for covered patio). I write in the salon whenever a client cancels. I write on the living room sofa whenever my wife abandons it for her quilting studio.

    And unlike most writers, I don’t have a routine. I keep trying to fashion one, but life gets in the way. Instead, I write on the fly. Whenever. Wherever. Somehow, it all comes together.

    BTW, Lisa, love your office space.

  7. I want Mark Twain’s writing shed. It’s beautiful. *sighs*

    Right now my computer space is a corner of the living room. We’re slowly turning one room upstairs into an office for me, but it’s been well… slow going. It’s nice when I’m home alone, but when my husband is home and has his monster-TV on, it’s a bit distracting.

    Lisa, I really have to ask: How the heck do you keep your desk so clean? I can’t keep the piles of books, paper, pens, and random crap that I don’t know where it came from or how it got there from cluttering my desk.

    • Ana, it’s called being OCD. Or a bad case of “a place for everything and everything in it’s place”. 🙂

      My family has been trained not to leave anything on my desk, and I put away binders, notebooks, dirty tea mug & tetsubin when I’m done for the day. In the morning, I usually run a dust cloth over it, to chase off all the cat hair. (My cat, Oberon, thinks my wrist rest is a pillow. *snort*)

      I had to create other spaces (like the basket on the bottom shelf of the table behind me for mail) and the pottery vase by my printer for pencils/pens/etc. because clutter of any sort drives me crazy. See above.

  8. I’m inspired to post a blog about my new writing space. I still lack the perfect art over my desk, but the “Steampunk” office is done. While I can’t boast my productivity has jumped, I did manage to finish publishing my first book in digital format from this lovely, organized space.
    Photos and blog to come.

  9. I tried to create my own writing space but somehow I always end up with my laptop on the couch. I guess it is my writing space. But one day I want a room, a library set up the way I want it. Then I will call it my writing room. 🙂 great post.

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