On improving my writing workspace

I need a better workspace. Or at least one, main space that is secure, free from distractions, and affords me enough room to spread out.

These days my working hours are divided between my library carrel, the grad study space in my department, and my home office. I tend to use the different spaces for different kinds of work. So, when I’m in the library I am working mostly on my thesis, in the department I work on teaching related tasks, and at home it’s a bit of everything.

I’ve wanted this carrel to be my office since I was assigned the space several years ago. But the desk is too small to open a big art book, the walls and doors aren’t secure enough to store anything of high value, and access to the space is limited to the library’s opening hours which are much reduced during the summer months.

In our new house where we will move in August I plan on using the basement bedroom as my office. The most important thing about the space is that is must be a distraction free space where I can focus on my writing without hearing, smelling, or seeing people or things that want my attention.

The need for a distraction free workspace is closely related to the need to make hard choices like staying home instead of joining family for holiday celebrations.

Here is what one writer shares about what she had to give up in order to get finished.

To meet the deadline, I would have to work straight through the Memorial Day holiday. I knew better, but I wrote to him [her thesis advisor], saying that I had done exactly what he had told me to do. His only comment was that he didn’t want to be told what he had said. Hoping that I hadn’t alienated him, I gave up my holiday week-end with my family and sat in front of my computer for 3 days. I got through the revision, and finished the dissertation, but that was one of the times that I strongly felt that the dissertation process had demanded too much from me. I have coached many people who somehow write dissertations while juggling the demands of family life.  It’s difficult to juggle the daily demands, but to give up a holiday with one’s family is a particularly hard choice to make.

These hard choices are indeed very hard. It’s not just that I feel guilty or selfish about using all my time on my own project. It’s that other people want and expect and even need me to be a part of the holiday. I’m not ready to give up on our summer trip to visit family, but I am constantly trying to figure out how to better balance my family life with writing this damned thesis. This challenge is not about some insight; it’s about being courageous and applying what I’ve learned in my real-life situation in which I can make some people very happy and others very upset.

Post about needing a distraction-free space to write

Post about making hard choices

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