A writing shed. Who has such a thing? How ridiculous is that?
Sometimes I catch myself thinking such thoughts. A writing shed? Really? Well, I’ll let you into a secret. I have just expended a massive amount of energy converting an old shed that was used to store coal into a writing retreat. I have a perfectly functional house with three bedrooms. Any one of those could have been converted into a writing space. However, none of the rooms worked so I went outside and created a marvellous writing shed that has transformed so many aspects of my life.
Why is a writing shed so important?
There’s something about setting up a space that is very different from the everyday. If I write in the kitchen and look up, my eyes alight on washing up or start wondering what I shall cook later. Then I might notice something that needs a dust. Basically my head is in domestic mode and personally I find it hard to be creative. Yet, for others it works fabulously. How many storied have I read where harassed mothers have scribbled between domestic duties and writing a successful three act play. Yes, it can be done but I need peace and quiet and an element of isolationism. Check out these amazing sheds to write in.
What constitutes the perfect writing shed?
In my experience somewhere quiet, with plenty of wood panelling of one sort or another is key. I made the decision that everything in the writing shed was going to be reclaimed and repurposed as far as was possible. The building itself was erected in the early 20th century and is typical northern red brick in construction. It was a small room next to what used to be the outside lavatory. That is such an old-fashioned word. When I first opened the wooden doors there was an earth floor, the walls were painted a very unprepossessing cloudy blue and black cobwebs festooned the ceiling. Although it had been empty when I moved in I had filed it with junk. You know the kind of stuff you hope might come in handy one day.
Constructing the writing shed was a risk
Honestly I had no real idea what the finished result might look like. All I knew is that an old window removed from the house would be a starting point and the plan should evolve from there. Builders hate that kind of approach. They like a list of jobs and a plan. They hate creative and evolution – oh well! So in went the window and then the job of cladding the walls with old scaffold boards began. When that was complete I decided to take out the door of the old loo and brick it up. The bricks we used were old ones form the inside of the writing shed. They were all covered in old paint. Actually I can’t believe how amazing they look and it’s now considered ‘a feature’. Of course you can create something new from scratch or even invest in a summerhouse.
Why does a writing shed work?
Every morning I go out to the writing shed very early. Sometimes it’s only just light. My desk is two scaffold boards screwed together and it’s been polished to within an inch of its life! I love it. I watch dawn break through the window and I am at ground level with the garden so my view is green. It’s totally silent. The wood cladding helps to insulate the shed from noise and draughts. I wrote my journal there in complete silence and no one and nothing disturbs me. I don’t think about anything except the task in hand and my day. I work out all my anxieties, problems and things that keep going through my mind. It totally keeps me on the right track.
How does journal writing affect my creativity?
Firstly, having a place to focus is great discipline. It means I have a set time in a ritualised form where I take in a herbal infusion and start writing and journaling. In July I planned a book that actually I had previously never thought about. I worked out the chapters in one go and made a start. That book is Create, Work, Earn and it’s published in October. Without my writing shed and my journaling I don’t think I would have been able to discipline my creativity in this way. It’s vital time to think, to contemplate, to make plans and also to dream.
Creativity, practicality and happiness
Whenever I enter my writing shed I feel happy; it’s an incredibly welcoming space. I know why I am there and I am never distracted by anything. I don’t use my phone or laptop. I don’t eat or read anything other than poetry and writing books. I have populated it with things that mean a lot to me. There are curios, paperweights, collections of shells, rocks, stones and fossils. I have wind chimes, lanterns, candles and plants. Many postcards adorn the walls and wherever I can, I have buffed and polished so the old wood shines. Finally, it’s my space. I have total control. Noone is invited in there for any other reason than a quick cuppa.
Affirmative action is required
To conclude, we all have to acknowledge what’s important to us and we should not be afraid to invest creativity, thought, artistry and love into things we value. You can find more exciting writing shed ideas on Pinterest. To end, tell me, where do you write and what works best for you?
If you want to order a copy of Create, Work Earn you can do that right here.