March 24, 2010

How big is your desk? by Kimberley Payne

How big is your desk?

This question was asked on the Inscribe Fellowship listserv to generate discussion. Immediately, I leaned back in my chair and admired my 10-year-old cherry-wood desk. I love my desk. It’s u-shaped with the computer in the middle, a hutch with four cabinets to my left, and an open desktop to my right. Under the cabinets I’ve shelved my writing books including such titles as, “Careers for your characters”, “The complete guide to self-publishing”, and “Handbook of English” to name only a few. Beside them, I have my 4-level desk tray of work to do. I generally keep my current projects piled to my left.

In the centre, sits my computer screen with my tear-away calendar with cartoon of the day, telephone, paper clips, tissues and two containers – one to hold my pens, one to hold my pencils. A calculator, eraser, and pen with inscription, For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) complete the centre.

To the immediate left of my screen sits my scanner/photocopier. To the right, the computer tower – to easily slip in CDs and upload pictures. Beside the tower is my colour laser printer. Everything is right within reach.

Elsie Montgomery’s desk sounds similar to mine. “My desk is horseshoe shaped. One side is actually an L that is 6' x 6' with a hutch on one arm and a pin board on the other. There is a keyboard tray slung under the corner where the two arms meet. The other arm is an attached peninsula that is 26" deep and 6' long. On this I have my computer, two printers, and the books/stuff that I use every day. I love this space and can spin in my chair to all parts of it. Most of the time it looks like an explosion in a paper factory, but I have neat days --- few and far between, but sometimes you can actually see the top of it. It is cherry wood and black. I covered the pin board in a leopard print and have zebra and jungle prints stuff here and there. I just need a water tap on one end and I'd be totally happy!”

There are many different styles of desks. A mission-style oak corner desk may be your preference. Or maybe an a-frame espresso desk may be more to your liking. Or you could be like Joyce Harback who doesn’t use a “formal” desk to write. Joyce uses her Macbook on her lap, sitting on the sofa where she has a great view out the window. She says, “I spread papers beside me or on the coffee table, which means they have to be gathered up if we have guests. I have a lovely office downstairs, but I rarely use it. Being in the main family room means I can interact easily with my family as they come and go.”

Besides the style of desk, there are a variety of colours to choose from. You may prefer a walnut-finish or a distressed black finish or maybe even a glass top computer desk.

Nathan shares, “A friend custom-built me a desk out of oak 16 years ago, and I still use it daily. It is 6 feet 8 inches wide and 3 feet deep. Two men cannot lift it. No, there is no empty space on it.”

No matter what the size, style or colour of your desk I think all writers can agree that it’s nice to have a favourite spot to muse. How big is your desk?


  1. Hi Kimberly,
    We are having a wall unit/desk custom built to match the built in cabinets in our family room. I have some new ideas now after reading about the different styles! I wonder, with a new desk will I be more organized? More focused? I hope so!

  2. Hi Pam,

    It's exciting to have something new! I'm sure that this new desk will inspire you to be more organized and focused.


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