From the desk of…


Regardless of whether you’re embarking on your first novel or tackling some much-needed life admin, a personal workspace can be where you do some of your greatest thinking. The best thing is that you can carve out an effective space to work just about anywhere, be it the corner of a room, a designated office, or somewhere else entirely. You just have to look to some of the greatest writers in history to see that a workplace needn’t be traditional to be perfect: Jane Austen sat in front of a tiny 12-sided surface on a single tripod when she revised Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice; Virginia Woolf worked from a very modest oak writing desk which she had designed herself when writing A Room of One’s Own and Agatha Christie came up with some of her best ideas whilst sitting in her bathtub. All very different spaces, yet each just right for their owners.

Here we’ve put together some tips for creating a productive yet utterly unique work environment, that doubles-up as a beautiful addition to your home. 

Create a dedicated workspace

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

Virginia Woolf

Whilst Virginia Woolf’s desk in her writing shed in the garden does sound idyllic, you don’t necessarily need to replicate it in order to create a productive place to work – but what you do need to do is create a specific zone. This will not only keep distractions at bay but will help to get you into the right frame of mind. If you don’t fancy crafting your own cabin, then a screen is an ideal way to designate private space in any room – our striking Lempicka will make such a statement that no one will dare to venture behind it to disturb you. In fact, when writing in her sitting room, Jane Austen had very little privacy except for a creaking door. She refused to have her door fixed as it warned her of any approaching visitors, from whom she would then proceed to hide her writing from.

Get the lighting right

No matter your line or place of work, the right lighting is essential. Virginia Woolf would sit adjacent large French doors, overlooking her garden when writing, so the space would be flooded with natural light. If natural light is hard to come by, then a desk lamp that projects a warm, soft glow is a good alternative. However, like the rest of your workspace, lighting is personal. Perhaps, like Roald Dahl, who used to close his curtains in his writing shed to block out any interference from the outside world, artificial light is in fact your preference. If your desk is piled high with books and papers then opt for wall lamps, which provide all of the ambiance but take up no prime real estate (surface space).

Surround yourself with things that inspire you

“I like animals, and it would be odd if I failed to write about them. Animals are a weakness with me, and when I got a place in the country, I was quite sure animals would appear, and they did.”

E. B. White

When E. B. White was asked to detail in a letter to his editor the inspiration behind his much-loved children’s book, Charlotte’s Web, it’s clear that his surroundings played one of the most important parts in its creation. Having just moved to a farm, he found himself troubled by the idea of keeping pigs as livestock and also became fascinated by spiders, which he had never paid any attention to before. And so, the characters of Wilbur the pig and Charlotte the spider were born.

When sat at a desk or looking at a screen all day, visual and creative inspiration become all the more important. Befriending creatures great and small isn’t the only way to do this of course; you can invigorate your mind with artistic prints, flowers, or photographs in classic frames. Even small desk accessories can make the world of difference. Rather than opt for plain bookends, choose unique ones; instead of simple box files, pick ornate ones – you never know what might spark ideas. If your work doesn’t require you to be creative, then there’s no harm in adorning your office with beautiful items regardless.

Pick a fragrance

“It takes a lot of time to be a genius, you have to sit around so much doing nothing, really doing nothing.”

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

If indeed your moments of brilliance are few and far between, what can really make a difference is fragrance. Citrus, for example, is excellent for improving concentration and can help to promote clear-thinking. Choosing a unique scented candle or diffuser that you only use whilst you work will help to focus your mind upon entering that specific environment. It goes without saying that it should be a scent you love, but also one that isn’t too overwhelming.

Topics: study

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