Inquiring Minds – Workspace

I’m introducing a new feature today: Inquiring Minds. Every so often, I’ll ask a question, or present a poll, to get some feedback from my readers.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that we like to have our workspaces just so. They can be large, small, crowded, airy, traditional, non-traditional. There are no rules. I’ve written at a desk, on the lawn, at a cafe, from my kitchen table, in my bed, and the list goes on and on. Give me a¬†keyboard or a pen and a notebook, and I’m ready to work. But of course, some workspaces are preferable to others.

This week, I want to ask: What’s your workspace look like?

  • Do you prefer it neat and tidy?
  • Do you prefer it somewhat messy?
  • Have you just given up altogether?

My current situation dictates that my main workspace is in my room, just steps away from my bed. That’s not ideal, but I actually don’t mind it as much as I thought I would. It’s kind of motivating to wake up every morning and see my laptop waiting for me, ready to record my thoughts. Plus, my desk (a folding table, with my vanity bench used as a chair) is situated in a corner, where two windows meet. I have a nice view of the sun rising in the east (to my left) and a hillside that’s often covered in fog (in front of me) each day when I get up and open the blinds. Since my workspace is just a few steps from where I sleep, it makes sense to keep both areas neat. I try to clear off my desk each night and make my bed each morning¬†because I focus better when things aren’t out-of-control messy, whether I’m writing, trying to fall asleep, or doing anything else.

My desk is small enough that it doesn’t take up valuable floor space, yet big enough that I can usually spread out files without having to move too many things around. Of course, for some projects, there’s never enough room. But I’ve learned to make the best of it. As long as I have enough room for my elbows and a coffee cup, I’m good.

They say that creative types are often messy. (They do. Google it.) I’m sure most of us wished we’d had scientific evidence of this when we were teenagers and wanted to get our moms off our backs about the state of our rooms. But I think it’s important to note the difference between messy and cluttered.

Messy means everything has its place, it just might not be in that place. Cluttered means you’ve got way too much stuff that doesn’t have a place.

So, to me, messy is temporary. It means I can spread out my files without feeling like I’m going to cause an avalanche of paperwork. And then when I’m done, I can sweep it all into a folder, tuck it into a file cabinet, and go back to having a neat workspace.

What’s funny, though, is that when I was younger, I didn’t have a desk. I scribbled in a notebook while laying on the floor, or stretched out on my bed. And I didn’t care. When I was 11, my parents re-did my room and I got a HUGE desk, with a hutch, file cabinet, bookshelf, and typing return. It was so large that it easily became messy and cluttered. Everyone drops things they don’t know what to do with on the largest flat surface of any room. But when I moved back to California, I had to leave my desk in Idaho. It wouldn’t fit in the U-Haul, and it certainly wouldn’t fit in my room. But, to be honest, I don’t miss it.

In his book, On Writing, Stephen King talks about his workspace. After he found commercial success, he invested in a large behemoth of a desk. He’d begun writing in a cramped space under the eaves in his childhood home and after making a name for himself, he wanted a stately oak slab that would “dominate a room.” Except, he’d spent so much time there “either drunk or wrecked out of my mind,” that he decided to get rid of what he called “the T-Rex desk” and simplify his workspace. His “new” desk is located in a corner, under an eave. Funny how life comes full circle when we let it.

Tell me about your workspace.