I’m going to take a few minutes of your time to talk about my desk. It’s the kind of desk that needs to be talked about. At length, preferably.
My desk has a smooth, dark wood finish, one large drawer where I keep my computer, another on the side for headphones, my hard drive, and other random items. Above that is a whole shelving unit, upon which I’ve stacked some of my favorite books, and, for some reason, a calculator. My desk also has a whiteboard, perfect for writing down tasks for the coming week, along with the occasional inspirational quote. Up there now: “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.” Kurt Vonnegut said that.
Why should I care about this guy’s desk? you might be asking yourself. First, because it’s the greatest desk of all time (thanks, Sara, for the great gift). Second, because if you’re trying to write, it’s important to have a place where you can sit down and actually write.
There’s a lot of research to suggest that your surroundings often dictate your behavior. For example, if you get in bed at night and stare at your computer for an hour, you might find it hard to sleep. That’s because your body now expects to go on the computer when it’s bedtime, not sleep. By contrast, if you use your bed primarily for sleeping, you probably won’t have any issues falling asleep.
The same applies to writing. If you enter a space which you sometimes use for writing and sometimes use for something else, it’s easy to get distracted.
Before I had my desk, I used to do my writing at my kitchen table or on my couch. But the kitchen table is where I eat, and the couch is where my girlfriend and I watch TV shows after work. After a while, I found that when I sat at the table, I wanted to eat breakfast more than I wanted to write. And when I sat on the couch, I didn’t feel like writing—I just felt like watching TV.
But when I sit at the chair at my desk—a roller chair, by the way, which is the coolest kind of chair there is—I’m not in the mindset to have breakfast or watch TV. The only thing I do at my desk is write, so that puts me in the mindset of writing.
Do you need a writing desk? No, not necessarily. (Though if you do get one, I recommend the Micke from Ikea. That’s what I got and, if you haven’t noticed, I think it’s pretty baller.)
I think the salient idea here is to create a space where you only write. That could be a particular room in your house, or maybe a particular coffee shop. Wherever it is, make it your writing space. You’ll be pleased with the results.