A Girl Can Dream…..


Roald Dahl’s Writing Hut

Dear Friends,
On the website Apartment Therapy, they’ve got a wonderful feature on “Famous Writers’ Small Writing Sheds.” As I eagerly browsed the pictures, I felt a mixture of admiration, excitement, and envy. Though I have a wonderful writing spot in my own house (actually several of them), I’ve always dreamed of having a little writing shed out back. There’s something about having a completely different space to go to, one that requires you to cross a threshold into a different frame of mind.

2011-2-4-gbs_shed_rect540This is a picture of George Bernard Shaw’s writing hut, which he named “London.” According to Apartment Therapy, he called it this “so his staff wouldn’t be lying when they said he had ‘gone to London.'”

Many writing friends I know have created their own writing huts—whether from a kit they bought online, or by refurbishing a garage or existing garden shed. It’s quite an investment of time and money, but one that really shows a commitment to one’s art.

I don’t have the resources for such a thing just yet, but I’m thinking of naming my writing room something like “Vancouver” or “Seattle,” so that I won’t be lying when I say “I’ll be in Seattle for the day,” when I’ve committed a day to writing. It might even keep me there a little longer, knowing I’ve journeyed somewhere else.

What is your writing space like? How do you make it “separate” from your everyday life?

Yours, in daydreams,



13 thoughts on “A Girl Can Dream…..

  1. The idea of a separate writing hut is a lovely one. Unfortunately, most of us have to make do with the space we have doing double if not triple duty. My “room” is not only my office for earning a living-type work (as I work from home), but it is also my creative writing space and space to attend to the administrative duties of said creative writing. It also sometimes serves as a craft room and extra bedroom when guest arrive for a night or two. It contains my desk, computer, printer, books, clothes, shoes, craft supplies, a futon, too many pillows and several lamps for a small room as I detest overhead lighting. Our little bungalow was built in 1919 so you can image the size of the room and its one tiny closet. I have made do for many years this way and while dreaming of a separate writing hut to call my own, I have to say the idea also scares me to a certain extent. I am so opposed to authority that even self-imposed authority is something I fear I would rebel against. The hut might soon become the omen of failure or obligation unfulfilled. Kind of like the stationary bike you buy with all good intentions of exercising more and within a month it has your robe and sweaters hanging all over it. As it is now, I write when I write. I do not have to leave the house and the heating and lighting are all in place. I am surrounded by famililiar things (maybe too many things), and while my cats and husband sometimes wondering in and out and the sound of the mail delivery or a car driving by can be a distraction, I think too much isolation for me would be a burden rather than a gift. P.S. it helps to not have small children. 😉

    I loved looking at the huts though. Thanks! Tina

    • I agree Tina! I’ve found that lately when I impose isolation for writing, my mind just gets more distracted. I’ve done some of my best writing in class with my students, or in a cafe surrounded by noise.

  2. My writing space is a one-room cottage between my house and garage. The house was built in 1917; the cottage was probably built earlier, the first building on the property. When I close the door to the cottage, I know I won’t be disturbed. The previous owners redid it to rent out for holiday weekends, adding a bathroom and small ‘kitchen corner’.

    I am also connected to Varuna the Writers’ House, which was formerly the home of a respected writer, Eleanor Dark. She too had a writing cottage outside her house. When she entered her writing space, she was not to be disturbed unless it was a matter of life or death.

  3. My writing space used to be in the improved attic. Big windows were too distracting anyway and I used to like the cozy feel under the eaves. But its an open attic, no door to close from the other spaces that have evolved over the past seven years (husband’s office, then son’s room when he comes home from college).

    So now, i’ve got the first floor guest room. Taller ceilings – a fresh start. Two weeks ago I saw a chair I really like, wooden with scrolled arms, and, yesterday, I sat in it and wrote. I like the idea of a cottage out back. We even have a cute little garage that could be just that, if it were empty and had heat, or a floor. But for now, the guest room is… Wait. What’s that cat box doing here? We have to lock the cat in a crate every night, so she throws up in a smaller space…and this room is it? Damn. I’m off to London.

  4. Thanks for sharing your writing spaces with us, Tina, Marsha and Kate. I hope more will respond, too. I’m very grateful to have a separate space for writing–I converted the garage to a guesthouse/writing studio when I first moved to my tiny cabin in Indianola. For me, the separation is helpful–I’m less easily distracted (though we all know our computers alone offer endless distraction) and like having more natural light–we put in a French door and lots of windows. But clearly, I need a name for it! :>

  5. A writing space in sorts can develop on its own. My husband knocked out the large window and part of the of our bedroom wall to add a 11 x 16 ft room with a small french door to the porch and a large window looking over our back yard (which is not an estate, but quaint for Tucson). No clocks and no phones until cell appeared on the scene. I have signs that hang on each door once closed (Do not disturb, I am catatonic) since we have cats in the house and the only ones who ignore the signs. This space is a refuge for peace, writing, reading, or just staring out the window and holds most of my favorite things.

  6. Dear Brenda, I loved the pictures of writing retreats, and am reminded of “A Room of One’s Own.” (Everything reminds me of Virginia Woolf. I just finished reading her diary, which gives new resonance to Mrs. Dalloway.) I’m with you on the need for dedicated writing space. I have a little office downstairs where I can leave notes and drafts and miscellaneous essentials in piles on the floor secure in the knowledge that they’ll be in-the-same-place-in-the-same-order when I return. But sometimes I get lonely writing. Then I go to our neighborhood coffee shop. Something about that place helps me concentrate when nothing else works – could be the ambient noise, the scent of coffee, the time in transit. I’m not sure. A friend of mine goes off to a trailer she has parked in the desert to write. She calls it “hermitting.” I’d probably be afraid of ghosts!

    • Hello Amanda! Coffee shops are perfect for certain kinds of work for me (especially if I don’t turn on the wi-fi!) It’s kind of sad sometimes, though, when I walk in a place, and every single table has one person at it, working at some kind of screen. I’m one of them, I know, but it still seems kind of isolating in a way…..

  7. I had a “chair of my own.” Smallish to fit my frame, lower to the floor. Just wide enough to accommodate my elbows when I typed. A feminine sky-blue print. And it was a rocker. It sat in a sunny corner of the bedroom. Hubby called it The Cockpit. A five-pound thesaurus, and whatever I was reading for inspiration on the floor on one side, a Diet Coke and stray reading glasses on the other. Sigh, the upholstery sagged beyond repair. We finally set it out on the curb as a freebie, gone before noon.

    Now I’m a nomad. Bedroom, spare bedroom, kitchen, dining room, patio, living room. For awhile, I avoided the family room, because that’s where the t.v. was usually on. Then I discovered head phones, which he wears if I want to sit beside him on the couch while I write. So now I’ve got a whole “house of my own.”