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Zen and the art of desk maintenance

If I were one of those people who are constantly quizzed about writing I would say this: pay attention to your desk.

If you live in your head, as writers do a good deal, it is important to have a physical place to work. If not a room of one’s own, at least a desk. A desk inhabits the real world and is not a nebulous thing of The Cloud. It is your situation, an anchor as you drift about on the currents of your imagination. It is also tangible evidence that you do some kind of work.

I am far from being a desk Nazi obsessed by tidiness. Nor do I feng shui my desk with a money tree in the far left hand corner of abundance, or place a telephone in the near right hand corner of helpful people.

My wife and I have just moved into a temporarily house, taking with us our two scuffling cats and some skeleton belongings. The first thing I did after reassembling the bed, was to rebuild my desk. But my desk right now is still a mess. There is tube of toothpaste on it, and a nest of wires from forgotten gadgets which reflect my disrupted state of my mind.

So I am going to tidy my desk. It is one of the main tools of my trade. Honor the tools, and the work will follow.

But a new thought is germinating. I enjoy pacing when I am thinking and Google tells me that worthies like Hemingway and Nabokov stood to write – as did Charles Dickens. It is also supposed to be a good deal healthier. Two desks? Sounds mad, but I’m going to try it.

 Winston Churchill at a standing desk
Winston Churchill at a standing desk