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A Shed of my Own

 

I am very fortunate. My job is my hobby. I love settling down to work at 9am on Monday morning. The only trouble is that it’s hard to stop. I don’t dash out of the office at 5pm on a Friday and forget about work for the weekend. So it becomes a bit of an obsession.

I’ve almost always worked from home. At times I’ve worked in spare bedrooms or from a sofa in the living room. I’ve set up a desk in a conservatory (hiding under an umbrella when the sun was too bright to see my computer screen). I’ve written blog posts whilst eating breakfast, I’ve edited book chapters on the loo.

But over the last couple of years I’ve begun yearning for a specific workspace of my own. A place where I could think “this is where I work. Today I am going to grind out some creativity and get 2000 words written no matter how little I feel like it.” [There’s a big difference between grinding out creativity and the sparking of creativity which comes on long runs, visiting new places, chatting to interesting people.] I wanted somewhere to play Thunder Road on repeat very loudly. I needed to leave home, to go somewhere to work (‘I’m heading out of here to win!’) and then to come home again when I’d finished and to properly relax, like normal people do.

I couldn’t really justify renting an office when all I need is a computer. And, besides, I didn’t choose my direction in life in order to have an office. No. What I really wanted was a shed. Middle-aged male stereotype, perhaps, but I challenge anyone to visit the Cabin Porn website (it’s safe for work! Except that it might make you hand in your resignation…) and not feel a deep longing for a place of their own.

So when my royalty cheque arrived for my Microadventures book (due out this June) I decided to treat myself to a shed of my own.

If I had the skill of my friend Nick I’d have built something from scratch (like this). But I don’t. So I bought a kit, recruited someone with skill to help me, persuaded a very nice couple to let me use some of their land, and set to work.

It’s interesting taking decisions which seem small and simple but which have unalterable consequences (such as picking the spot to build on):

This is where I'm going to write my next book.

The secret, I guess, is to try your best to get the decision right but don’t fret too much. Otherwise you’ll never get started.
Next up: fine tune the direction. Getting the balance between winter sunrises and summer sunsets is a tricky compromise.

I was committed now. It’s a nice feeling. You might as well stop worrying and plough on as best as you can. Get the foundations right, take your time on those, for without the solid basics the rest isn’t going to work long-term.

Once you get going it’s amazing how quickly things start to take shape.

Power drills and wellies: building my writing shed was more fun than working in it’s going to be..!

Shed

Shed

Getting the roof on and watertight was a good moment. We’d been at the mercy of the grim weather (though I loved working hard outdoors) and it’s always a good feeling to take control of things.

A good place for blue sky thinking. #shed

Shed

Nothing worth achieving is done without plenty of tea breaks.

Shed

Building this shed is the most relaxing, de-stressing thing I've done in ages. Love it. #shed #teabreak

Electricity in. Heater in [a log-burner due in Shed 2.0]. Internet in. Al in. Time to work!

I’ve just moved in – this is my first blog post from the shed – and I love it! I could do with some help though as it does currently feel like I’m sitting in an empty sauna. I haven’t even got a chair yet! So if you have an ounce of interior design skills in your body (which I don’t!) then I’d love some thoughts on what I should put it in here to really turn it into an awesome hub of creative genius (plus me)!

Building this shed was the most relaxing, de-stressing thing I’ve done in ages. It was satisfying to build something as well as we could, something that will stand for many years. I enjoyed learning new skills (and playing with power tools). I loved seeing a daydream take shape into a solid reality.
And now I guess I’d better get to work…

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Loving my new giant map from @futuremaps. A struggle to even fit it in the shed! Really beautiful printing, and lots of adventures to plan.

View on Instagram

Hmmm... I built this shed so that I'd work harder, not spend my day taking Instagram photos of it... #shed

shed

shed

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Comments

  1. Al, I have to say, I am very jealous! That looks like the perfect work environment. But perhaps the wall space is lacking a few maps to get your creative cogs in action?

    Reply
  2. Love it Al! And the Cabin Porn site … I think it’s not safe for work I’m afraid. I’m just inches away from powering off that wee machine sitting in front of my, go home to pack some stuff, call at the next car rental and head off into the wilderness… 😀 *sigh*
    Thanks for sharing and enjoy your little creative space! How about making it available on couchsurfing, airbnb or even a hot desking website!?? 😉

    Reply
  3. Great! Maybe check out this song and feel inspired as to what your cabin should look like! 🙂

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua1FAlHt_Ys

    Reply
  4. Looking good Al! I have a home office which is use to do my boring paperwork at the end of the day. Two things I think are useful:-

    – Map of the world to stare at and dream every now and then.
    – A Peace Lily livens up any desk (and they need very little looking after!)

    If you need any help with the stove I am HETAS registered as well before I leave to cycle to Japan in July that is (your fault I am telling my girlfriend!)

    Richard

    Reply
  5. My girlfriend approves of your brand of mug.

    Reply
  6. Peter Reilly Posted

    It needs a mini Fridge (essentials Milk, cookies), clock, kettle. Add some colour, I’d recommend hanging some Tibetan prayer flags (your own base camp)

    Reply
  7. Nice work sir and welcome to the shed workers collective. Since you’ve show us yours I show you mine.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/organize/?start_tab=one_set72157627757291564

    Reply
  8. Oh, lovely! Looking forward to read everything you write there.

    I think the less stuff you keep in the better it will be… but,

    – I agree with Peter R, a corner with a kettle and a cookie jar might come handy.

    – And that side wall screams for some blackboard paint, so you can make notes, and blue-tack things when you get ideas… http://loftlifemag.com/mu/files/2009/09/wish2.jpg

    – And maybe a comfy armchair, for reading/planning moments.

    Reply
  9. There’s definitely a connect there between travelling simply and building simply – we’ve found the same connect with power tool assisted building since returning from our trip, and the shed is next on the list of thing we want to do! Enjoy the space!

    Reply
  10. Looks good. You could add a bit of colour, a few framed photos and maps for the walls, and book shelves might help lose the sauna feel. You could also get one of these scratch maps, if you haven’t already, and see where you’ve yet to explore? http://www.gadgetgrotto.com/uk-and-ireland-scratch-map?gclid=CMGMstzbobwCFa-WtAod_1IAzg http://www.theletteroom.com/the-little-boys-room/large-scratch-map

    Reply
  11. Why not decorate the shed with a beautiful photos from your travels. Or make photo/illustration/maps collages. With places which evoke memories…

    Reply
  12. Dear Alastair,
    I wil definitely do a thing like this in Croatia. As soon as the snow melts I’m going scouting for a nice spot in the woods, or maybe a perfect spot near the sea and start planning how to make it happen. The biggest problem might be persuading someone to buit it on their land. There are a lot of people I know that will be interested in sharing such a perfect little working paradise and maybe we can all pitch in an create something good. Thank you so much for the motivation you provided all these years I’ve been following you. Good luck with your work and cheers to The Cabin! All the best from Croatia!

    Reply
  13. Patrick B Posted

    Can you fit a hammock in there?

    Reply
  14. Very impressed that you’ve persuaded “a very nice man to let me use some of his land”. I co-worked for several years until everyone was evicted by Leeds Met Uni as they wanted the building for something else. Now it’s a client’s office, which works well. Working from home can be difficult.

    Reply
  15. Nice work on the shed. Book shelves are a must – books make everything better, and you can keep all sorts of other stuff on them too. maybe a colourful lamp and some coloured storage boxes for odds ‘n’ ends. Also pictures are always a good way to warm a room, as is art.

    enjoy it x

    Reply
  16. You need a bar in there as well for those warm sunny afternoons!

    Reply
  17. I love your shed! As for interior design ideas, I have a humble suggestion. A few years ago, I transformed the interior of my vintage Airstream, in which I live part-time as a travel blogger about outdoor adventure. I wanted to create a space that sparked creativity, so I started with choosing colors that made me feel warm and comfortable, then added little touches of nature here and there, and ended up with the perfect writing space for me. You can see the transformation at http://peaceinatincan.blogspot.com/2012/07/true-colors-of-tin-can.html Hope this helps!

    Reply
  18. Nice shed!

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  19. How long did it take start to finish? Curious did you buy just plans or the full kit? From where?

    Great stumbling across your spot on the web from a friends recommendation to read your bio on TGD & great taste in Cabin Porn as I have been drooling over a quiet place in nature to attempt to tame the inner wanderlust demon

    Reply
    • Alastair Posted

      I bought the full kit from Dunster House. I bought insulation / guttering / flooring / roof felt separately. It was about 2 weeks’ work.

      Reply
  20. Lukimiko Posted

    Noice shed!! Well done. In my opinion you are missing plants though, bring in some! And maps, and books……and the hammock of course (some genius that guy!), it’d be rude not to.

    Reply
  21. Neill Wylie Posted

    Real nice and clean job, Al.
    Glad you had good fun building.

    Reply
  22. It’s looking absolutely fantastic, particularly with those multicoloured fairy lights!

    Reply
  23. Very interesting. We just started a similar process. Would love to hear your opinions 🙂

    Best, A

    Reply
  24. I am inspired by your project and your interior thoughts about the experience. I am currently working on a shed. Now, unlike you, I’m not building from scratch. The framed unit is coming delivered, but I am creating the interior—considering barnwood, or the like, on the walls…light in color…painted white ceiling. I have two windows and a bright door. Overall, it’s 8X10 and that is plenty. I want it to be a singular place for writing, thinking and not a “getaway.” It will have electric, enough for a light and a space heater. (I am outside Chicago, so you see the need.) I have a desk that I love and a space for books. Walden will be there. I’ve considered such a think for a long time. It’s time. Good luck to you and your endeavor. It is a beautiful thing.

    Reply
  25. This is great Alastair! Which model of Dunster cabin is this, if you don’t mind me asking? Thanks!

    Reply
  26. Alastair, you are my hero! I have embarked on a writer shed experience myself…albeit less ambitious. The shed was pre-built and I am outfitting it myself. Writing about it a bit on my blog.
    http://davidwberner.blogspot.com/2016/12/there-before-me-writers-shed.html
    I am also writing about the experience as part of a larger manuscript on the notion of “home.”
    I will be following all that you do!

    Reply

 
 

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