Setting Up Shop Part 2: A Writer’s Desk

A year ago, I bought a writing desk hoping it would kickstart my writing career. The writing desk was sleek, black, fit in a small corner– and it came with a big drawer and a matching chair.

After I spent three hours putting it together, I immediately went to work arranging my office supplies and writing instruments in the drawer.  I was pleased with the way the desk looked in the office and my heart skipped happily, thinking of all the wonderful stories I’d be writing on that desk.

Sad to say, a week after buying the desk, I barely used it.

It’s not that I didn’t find the time to write.  I mostly wrote at work, whenever I had free time and whenever I’d finished all the paperwork for the day.  I wrote at home, too, only I used the big kitchen table downstairs instead of my writing desk.

The truth is, the desk set was just too uncomfortable and not as functional as I hoped it would be. The drawer kept on getting stuck, so it took me at least three minutes to get something from it.  I found the desk’s surface too small—I couldn’t spread my notes or papers out because I had just enough room for my small lamp, pen-holder and laptop. The chair wasn’t doing it for me, either.

Sufficed to say, I learned my lesson. Just because a desk is called a “writing desk”, it doesn’t mean I’ll get any actual writing done on it.  I swore that the next time, I would spend money on a desk set I’d actually use.

I decided to make a list of the criteria I would use in choosing the right desk for my writing needs.

1. The desk should have a large surface area.

It should be large enough to fit my laptop (and desktop, if I ever decide to buy one), desk lamp, pen holders, various computer peripherals (wires, cables, hard drives, etc) and still have space for me to spread my papers and notes.

2. The desk should have additional storage space.

It should have a drawer large enough for my files, and extra drawers for office supplies and writing paraphernalia I will need to have on hand.

3. The desk should have a keyboard drawer.

Keyboards eat up a lot of the surface area I could be using for notes or books. Since I used a keyboard extension for my laptop, and since I plan to buy a desktop in the future, a keyboard drawer is a must have.

4. The desk should be ergonomically correct.

According to one article I read, the desk’s height should accommodate the size of your computer monitor. It should be at least 20 inches away and the top of the monitor should be at or slightly below eye level.

5.The desk should match the rest of the room.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, the desk’s color and design should blend nicely with the office theme, wall paint and décor. The desk should have a classy color that isn’t too jarring to look at.

6. The desk should be made of sturdy materials and the kind of wood that doesn’t break too easily.

Metal desks are too cold, Glass tops are too modern, and plastic tables are just plain crummy.  Wood is warm, and inviting and reminds me of log cabins and classic writers of old. Wood makes the best kind of desk for nostalgic, whimsical and fussy writers like myself.

Of course, not just any kind of wood will do. The wood should be able to withstand the weight of all your equipment. It should also be attractive and pleasant to look at.  Solid Oak, Cherry wood and Maple wood are good options.

My friend, who knew we were looking for desks, (and who is so good at finding the best deals online) emailed me a link to this desk she found. It was on sale for $99 (normally $169).

After making sure the desk fit all my criteria, I bought it right away and took it home. So last Friday night, while everybody else was out watching movies or partying, my girlfriend and I  stayed up ‘til 2:30AM assembling the desks and organizing the entire office.

Here’s what the home office looked like at 9:30PM:

After years of buying furniture, I’ve finally discovered a system for assembling them without losing my mind. I read the manual, gathered the tools I needed, lay all the pieces out, checked them against the manual and labeled them accordingly.

Here’s what the office looked like five hours later:

Thanks to a regrettable first experience with buying a desk,  some soul-searching and a friend who finds the best deals online, I now have a desk I love and a desk I’ll actually use.

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3 Responses to “Setting Up Shop Part 2: A Writer’s Desk”

  1. TerryToes says:

    Yea! I discovered while in college not long ago, that surface is hugely important to me, too. I like to put my laptop some distance from me, so that my arms are on the desk, elbow-to-wrist. I pulled my desk out from the wall a bit and put a board along the back, to deepen the desk surface.

  2. Ally says:

    Where can I find this desk??

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