As stated in a previous post last year, my wife and I use one of the bedrooms in our house as an office. Our desks are pushed against opposite walls. My side of the room is dominated by three overflowing bookshelves; her side is pretty sparse. To be honest, I’ve sort of annexed her desk and now use it as a repository for random odds and ends.
While I someday hope to have a writing room that’s completely my own, what I’d really like is a writing hut. Roald Dahl had one. Dahl’s recent biographer, Donald Sturrock, described the author’s shed in the brilliant Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl:
Roald now found that he wrote best when he was undisturbed in his hut. It was built out of a single layer of bricks, insulated with polystyrene and divided into two rooms, neither more than six feet wide. In the front room he stored his files, letters and manuscripts in two ancient wooden cabinets, on top of which were perched two tiny model aeroplanes with oak propellers and long slender wings covered in varnished silk. In the opposite corner lay a rubber exercise mat and several sets of barbells. The backroom was his writing space. There, for four hours a day, he could separate himself from the main house and cut himself off from the world of nannies, nurses, schools and shopping. Seated in a soft leather chair—which he replaced with a chair of his mother’s after her death—with his legs up and covered in a warm blanket, he created a world where his imagination could run free. It was not dissimilar to the cockpit of a plane. With the curtains drawn, and only the occasional sound of Claud’s cattle chomping the grasses outside to disturb him, his green baize writing board and yellow U.S. legal pads in front of him, his sharpened Dixon Ticonderoga in hand, and a tableful of little treasures at his side, he could escape into an alternative existence and become a “truant boy” once more.
I researched the matter this past weekend and stumbled across the following slideshow, featuring the writing huts of famous authors. And from the Scottish Book Trust, here’s how to transform that empty garden shed into your own writing retreat.