A room of my own (sort of) 

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writers' room reference library

“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own
Living in an open concept condo has its advantages, but having private space to write is not one of them. Over the years I’ve tried many variations on an “office”. I tried a desk by the window but felt far too exposed to do any actual writing there. I tried using a lap desk in bed but that just made me sleepy. Most recently I tried moving my desk next to the bed but I’m still not sold on that. It may sound like I don’t know what I want but I think it’s the opposite. I know exactly what I want, I just can’t find a way to have it in my current living situation. I like having an office space that feels very private, very secure. My ideal space would be a small room where the walls are lined with books. A room with enough space for a desk and chair, and maybe a comfy reading chair in the corner. But the most important feature would be the door. I like the idea of shutting it and entering my own little world. Ideally, my office would be the place that I write and read and that’s it. That way when I enter and shut the door, I know what I have to do. No wasting time, no screwing around.
But, since I’m not willing to move out of my place just yet, I’m committed to making it work. I firmly believe that you don’t need a huge kitchen to make an amazing meal so I feel as though I should be able to get some writing done in just about any space. Still, there are times that I would give anything for a little room of my own.
When I heard about The Writers’ Room at The Toronto Reference Library back in February, I applied right away. The Writers’ Room (pictured above) is a space on the 3rd floor of the Reference Library with four individual workspaces that writers can book for 4-hour blocks of time. While you don’t have to be a published writer to book space there, you do have to demonstrate a commitment to using the library’s collections in your writing. This was easy for me because I’m working on something that requires a fair amount of research and the Reference Library has an excellent collection of books on my topic, many of which are rare or out of print. My application to The Writers’ Room was accepted but I had to wait until July for my spot. Now my three-month stint is almost over and I’m so grateful to the Toronto Reference Library for having this program. I’ve been using the Reference Library since I was in high school and I can always find what I need there, thanks to their extensive collection. I’m always productive when I go there. It’s like I can’t possibly be at that library and waste time. It just doesn’t seem right.
My only complaint about using the Writers’ Room was that I couldn’t get there nearly enough. I am most productive in the morning, the earlier the better. I tried going to the library after work a few times but I never got that much done. It was okay when I was just doing research because I was basically just taking notes, but when I needed to be creative, afternoons and evenings just didn’t work. When I did manage to get there in the morning, it was usually on Saturdays. I would drop into the coffee shop on the main floor to get provisions and then I would start writing right away. On those mornings I was super productive and made so much progress. But one day a week didn’t seem like enough.

writers' room reference library windows
Sometimes it’s helpful to travel to a place outside your home in order to get some work done. A designated work space that is for writing and nothing else. Some people find that a busy coffee shop does the trick, but that has never worked for me. I get too distracted by the conversations and the muffins. And while I enjoyed using The Writers’ Room, I don’t think it would work for me in the long term. Alas, I think the best thing for me would be a little room in my own house. But since I don’t have that yet, I’ll have to make do with the desk by my bed.

“So long as you write what you wish to write, that is all that matters; and whether it matters for ages or only for hours, nobody can say. ”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

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