If there is one thing I believe, it is this:
A person should rearrange their furniture at least once a year.
My kid sister and I moved our bedroom furniture into numerous configurations throughout our growing up years. Twin beds under the windows, or on opposite walls, or pushed completely together—whatever we felt like. Vanity table arranged at a diagonal—or in line with the dresser. Every time we did this, it made us feel sort of rich—like we had a brand new room. We both continue this creative habit today, making exceptions only for those pieces that weigh as much as an elephant, say . . . like a grand piano, or the television/sound system whose wiring setup dictates its position.
Lately I’ve been feeling restless. I’d walk into my office in the mornings and sense: “ . . . you again, huh? “
Nobody could fix that except me. So I gave my office a makeover. This meant emptying three loaded bookcases and a full filing cabinet. I cleared the art off the walls and started over. The bookcases moved to the opposite side of the room, nothing went in front of the window to block the view to the street, and a new reading corner took shape. It’s the same sized room, of course, but it feels bigger with the new arrangement.
During the course of this fruit-basket-upset process I sorted, read, reassessed, filed, or tossed a good deal of clipped/saved material. I rediscovered two sets of writing prompts that I’d cut from Writer’s Digest Magazine years ago.
One prompt that caught my attention pointed to changing things up for a week. I quote:
“For one week, write for at least a half-hour in three different places. After the week is over, reread what you wrote. Look for variations in tone.”
I’ve been sold on this one for a long time as I’ve experienced writing in airports, on planes, in quiet as well as noisy coffee shops, my sister’s backyard, and even in emergency waiting rooms. It’s like changing the channels on TV. There’s something different with each switch and I’ve come to realize that fiction writing doesn’t go so well for me in the outlying venues. The lush floral haven of my sister’s backyard takes me deep into childhood memories. Airport observation writing brings back the familiar actions of those gone from me. I observed an elderly woman scratch her head in the identical way my mother used to, but it wasn’t scary. It was strangely comforting to see that again.
I love my “new” office. It feels like my airways have been widened and it is good to look out the window with an unobstructed view. I know the “they people” say you shouldn’t have your writing desk by a window because it might distract you. Sorry, experts, but I need air and light when I work.
Maybe you don’t have a formal office in your home. Possibly you share space with others and work from a corner of a room. Perhaps your special work space is a stack of file folders in a box that you pull out when you’re ready to write.
If you find yourself squirming and irritable with yourself, or with your project, try changing something up. It doesn’t have to be huge. Move the lamps, hang new pictures, rearrange the old ones –or take them down all together. Buy colored file folders for your projects.
Will changing my furniture around make my writing better? It’s not my responsibility to make that call, but my environment felt cleaner, more inviting, more invigorating and working feels interesting again.
I believe in the power of a refresh.