Okay, okay. Officially a group of owls is a parliament, but since we didn’t want a misunderstanding on this non-political piece, we thought we’d go for “flock” in the title. But our over-analytical editor digresses…
The MockingOwls are a quirky, creative bunch who spend a lot of time at home creating works of many kinds. So, we each have different needs for our home offices. If you’re looking for some ideas to spark your own creative workspaces, perhaps ours may offer some spark of intrigue for you or validate your own choice for working wherever and however most comfortably and productively meets your needs.
I tend to work on the go – either on the deck of my local coffee shop, in front of my TV (a bad habit), or jotting notes into my phone when I’m at work as the inspiration hits me. But when it’s time to put everything together, to really sit down and focus, my desk is my home base.
I am not a very organized person. In fact, I had to clean my desk in order to take a photo that was appropriate to show the world. You can normally find me surrounded by cast-off, half-filled sheets of paper, books by the dozen, and way too many empty gatorade bottles in need of recycling.
The plants keep me company, my candles give me some much needed aromatherapy when I inevitably get a writing headache, and the little knick knacks are souvenirs of past chapters of my life and fun trips around the globe (like that hand sculpted figurehead from Jamaica, where my family is from).
It’s nearly impossible for me to write without music, so my roommate can always plan on hearing my much-loved Elton John playlist or a relaxing Disney Peaceful Piano playlist (thanks, Spotify). That’s just about all I need.
This little place on the sofa has been my most recent creative home, though my favorite place is usually out on a porch. Nothing calms me like being around nature. But we just moved so we have yet to fully nest.
My best little buddy is next to me or fighting for lap space while I work. He calms my spirit when I have thoughts flowing quicker than my fingers type or by offering distracting cuddles to cure a creative wall.
My space usually has outlets nearby, as well as my computer bag for safekeeping in transport. My best reading or writing must be paired with a delicious hot tea, hot chocolate, or cup o’ joe, depending on time of day and mood. The really best reading is paired with a peppermint-flavored hot chocolate coffee.
I’m a “Tigger” – I love to bounce from spot to spot. It’s wonderful that technology makes it easy to pick up and find a new place of comfort or inspiration when I get tired of sitting or feel I’ve stared at the same environment too long. Changes in scenery boost my creativity.
But for now, this is my spot.
Is this a workspace or a sleeping space? Should these two spaces be more distinct? Is my lone room in a garden apartment too cramped to fit a desk beside necessary books? Those are far too many existential questions for a simple note about my “workspace,” and so they shall remain delightfully rhetorical.
To conclude, as very many words have indeed been typed here (perfect posture perfectly maintained) on this bed with a heater outside in the hallway, while I would love to convince the Internet I jet off on the regular to the beaches of Bali, such is not the unvarnished truth. The life of an author is glamorous, yes?
In these days of working remotely, I have read so many posts talking about the necessity of creating a space specifically used for work, in order to give yourself the mental signal that it’s now work time.
During the pandemic, I have considered any day a victory if I changed from pajamas to real clothes. I didn’t need the extra pressure of separating one place in my apartment for work. I have traveled thousands of miles on that couch in my front window, whether I’m reading, writing, streaming a movie or tv show, or watching the world outside walk past.
This is my little Hobbit corner for work and writing. I surround myself with tokens of love. Lining the walls around my desk are many pictures that each of my eight grandbabies have made over the years. There are words of love and encouragement and precious pictures of my family.
What you don’t see is a shelf unit my Daddy made for me, various paintings done by my darling daughter, and my own paintings. Being surrounded by these reminders of love makes it easier to work daily and create in this little room I call my office.
My workspace is always changing. A favourite haunt at the moment is The Book Nook in Stirling, with a wonderful pot of Earl Grey Tea to keep me hydrated as I work on pieces.
Generally all I need to consider somewhere an appropriate writing workspace is inspiration for a story. This means that I’ll write whenever and just about wherever I have the chance; on the bus, park benches, the staff break-room, and quite often curled up on the couch with my cats and Netflix on pause – because the muse strikes at the strangest of times.
I will admit that a quiet environment is better than a silent one for my creativity, and so if there isn’t some nice ambient noise or music, I’ll play my own well-worn playlist on headphones.
Often I’ll be using a paper journal at the same time as writing on my tablet in order to keep track of plot and character points, not to mention any research I might need to access quickly. That being said, when I don’t have the tablet both my notebooks and my phone become lifelines – the phone for the voice notes (and therefore brainstorming abilities), and the notebook for those little scenes and cherished details that come out of the blue.
My workspace is in the exact center of my home. There’s no privacy, and, as a part of the living room, it’s a thru-way for many feet. But it’s my space, my own nook carved out from the rest. Here I have my schedules, my posted goals, and pictures that inspire or make me laugh, all intended to keep me on task and focused.
There I have the books I use regularly or am studying, my workout equipment for when I’ve sat too long, and the neediest of my 3 cats (who is indignant whenever I stand). Surrounded by these, I have my marvelous desk, which folds up to hide the computers, cords, papers, and all the other things my many-hatted self requires.
My life may be tied up in never-ending tasks, but the simple act of closing my desk offers a soothing finality: Another day’s work is done, and I can find another center for a little while.
My workspace is a little corner in my room in the attic filled with my adjustable angled desk, laptop, mouse, microphone, and “tiny hands” – an inside joke and gift from a livestream show called Adobe Office Hours on Behance.
I also usually have a turquoise water bottle or a Cintiq next to me when I’m illustrating, hanging out and working in the Adobe Creative Career Discord server, or casually gaming. My mom and I painted the Pollock-esque walls when we moved into the house almost 8 years ago. They’ve added a little fun in my life and continue to inspire me to keep my creative spark every day.
Recently, I opened up the cubbies I purchased a while back to reorganize my books and art supplies, making them all easier to see and access. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind” really comes into play, so having them right there makes them harder to avoid, allowing me to get in the zone of focus more easily.
I’ve had a lot of former work lives:
Notice something about what they have in common? Right. None of them involve sitting at a desk.
So, when I became a full-time freelancer and photographer, my life and physical health changed drastically. I no longer spent more hours on my feet than on my tush, and this most sedentary role has come as I’ve gotten older, not younger, meaning that my health is at more risk for this kind of lifestyle/job.
So, these past two years, I’ve been experimenting and crafting the perfect workspace for myself at home as a freelance journalist. I have a standing desk, an exercise ball to sit on when I need to sit, and a treadmill desk. I still have my books close at hand, easy internet access at all desks, and my photography studio is in the next room.
My yoga mat and exercise equipment are on the other side of the room where I easily pull them out throughout the day, taking 5-minute stepper breaks, perform 100 jumping jacks, use a hula hoop, lift weights, do some hip-releasing yoga poses, or anything else required to keep my body moving as much as possible throughout the day.
It’s not a perfect solution – that could only come through changing careers back to something active again – but it works for now. And it improves my mood, mental clarity, health, and focus.