A Room of One’s Own, With a Door



As I pack up and prepare to move into a new house, the part I am most excited about is that the new digs offer me a spacious, private, and sunny office space. In the house I first lived in, I had a great little office: I could gaze out the window and watch my dogs play in the yard, and could separate myself from the rest of the house if I needed some quiet time for writing.

When I moved into the 700 square feet duplex we live in now, we knew the place would just be a temporary situation. Though I did gain a great friend in our retired paralegal upstairs neighbor, I very quickly realized that between my huge collection of books, a hoard of kitchen gadgets, and the two dogs, this house was bursting at the seams. The water pipes make strange noises, angry squirrels throw fruit at our windows (I swear!), and drunkards sometimes like to pass through the yard on their way to the bus stop. Worst of all however, is that the only space I could set up my desk is a little wedge of wall space two feet from the refrigerator and five feet from the TV—both things are very bad news for someone who works from home.


I’ve managed to make it work, because I had no choice. But all the while, I couldn’t help but remember reading Virginia Woolf’s extended essay on the issue back in my Women’s Lit course in college. I used to get her essay, A Room of One’s Own confused with the book, A Room With a View, and found Woolf’s writing dense and wearisome. At the time, I didn’t have any faith that I would truly be able to make a career for myself as a writer, and certainly had no idea what that meant. Now that I am beginning to understand all that being a writer entails, I am looking at Woolf’s advice with a much more analytical eye. It seems that with this room of my own, the thing I need most is a door. I need to be able to shut myself inside the writing, without distraction from sight or sound beyond those four little walls.


Though working from home allows me a very flexible schedule, and I have plenty of time alone, it’s not easy for me to just plop myself down in any spot or settle into a noisy café with a laptop. No, I require a sacred space—a room that, when I enter it, fills me with a sense of duty and urgency. I want to walk into my office, close the door with gusto, and settle down knowing that this is the place I come to work, to write, to be inspired.


Any ideas for creating such a sacred space and making it conducive to creativity and freedom of thought? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Send me a comment or email about your own office or writing rituals.


One thought on “A Room of One’s Own, With a Door

  1. I work from home as well, as a web consultant and developer. I’m still discovering and elaborating on my “rituals” for mentally shifting gears, but for now I make it a point to prepare for the day as if I were going to a business meeting — hygeine, dress, paperwork, etc. It’s an evolutionary thing… I really would like to hear other peoples’ rituals for “zoning in.”

    I read somewhere that larger spaces are more conducive to creativity, but when you work from home, you really don’t get that much choice in the matter.

    There are a hand full of things that I’ve found to be critical in my workspace.

    First, four walls and a door. I really need to be able to feel like I’m sealed off and in a different environment from my home. If I feel at home, my attitude is not oriented towards my work. I could use better sound proofing, but being fully, physically, separate is good enough.

    Second, the french door leading into the backyard (previously just a window). Being able to look up from my notebook or monitor and see the world keeps me grounded. If I can’t see the changes throughout the day, I lose touch with time and feel incredibly isolated.

    Third, the 5500K CFL parked behind me, my bright glowing artificial sun. It evens the lighting out in the room, and actually has a major psychological impact. I find that I’m more alert and focused when it is on.

    Fourth, foliage! Which I don’t have enough of 😦 Thankfully I can see a lot through my back door, but sometimes I want to drop the shade so I can really concentrate. On those occasions, I’d really love to have some more plant life to keep me company.

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