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The Couch and the Closet



Peter is a sweet-tempered screenwriter with a tendency toward pessimism. He usually works on his scripts while seated in a corner of his big couch in his living room.

As a consequence, his coffee table is covered with papers and CDs, and there’s usually a pile of source material, old copies of Variety, and various notepads stacked by his feet on the floor.

When I suggested that a medium-sized bookcase and a good lamp next to his couch might make the place more orderly, Peter demurred.

“I should really work at a desk. I’ll just move all this stuff to the desk.”

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But I would not be put off.

“Peter, I notice that there are two desks plus a dining room table in this apartment, and clearly you are not using any of them. You like to work here on the couch, so let’s make your work spot work for you!”

One bookshelf, one floor lamp, and three CD storage cases later, Peter was happily typing away.

He sold both of the desks — and his latest screenplay.

Meredith loves to multitask and to be in the center of the action. As a writer who specializes in articles, essays, and short stories about children and family life, she found her little office in the upstairs bedroom isolating and ineffective.

It seemed like no sooner did she sit down, than one of the kids needed something, or she wanted a cup of coffee, or it was time to make dinner.

Or maybe she just felt like those things might happen and she would miss them if she were trapped upstairs. So she turned the upstairs room into a much-desired retreat for her eldest child and moved her desk to a little nook just off the kitchen.

She moved her files into the front hall closet (which, I must add, only works because Meredith lives in Southern California and so she doesn’t really need her front closet for coats) and turned the closet doors into a bulletin board.

Now she loves typing merrily away while the pasta water comes to a boil and her husband watches TV.

Frequent interruptions wouldn’t work for everyone, but Meredith finds that being in the midst of domestic chaos cultivates her creativity.

Nontraditional work spaces can work perfectly, if they truly accommodate your needs.

Do you have a nontraditional workspace? Share in the comments below.

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