Spend even a brief amount of time scrolling around the internet, and you’ll find dozens of theories on how to set up your workspace. People advocate for feng shui, encouraging you to incorporate all four elements into the room to achieve balance. (Yes, I’m aware there are other rules, as well, but I’m not well-versed in the art) Others encourage you to abandon a formal office and work wherever the mood strikes you. That’s a theory, but I think a freelancer needs SOMEWHERE official to keep their business. And, if you live in Prairie Dog Land, you probably have a list of restrictions on what you can and cannot display in your microcosm of felted walls. With an imagination, you figure out how to push the limits of those rules.
Then you have those of us who grew up in the 80s.
What made our day as kids? STICKERS! We hoarded stickers the way kids in the 90s stashed Pokémon cards. A simple image on an adhesive back turned into playground currency. Did you have a puffy sticker? One with googly eyes? Were you packing glitter images? Or the rare holographic find? (I won’t even attempt to break down size) We huddled in corners at recess, clustered under the monkey bars, and met after dismissal, displaying our stashes with all the sly mystery of a modern drug deal. And teachers broke up sticker rings every bit as ruthlessly. (Never mind they supplied half of the supply – passing out choice options as rewards for well-written papers or perfect scores on math tests) Your best stickers went into Trapper Keeper binders, only trotted out for proud display. But the “common” offerings – images everyone managed to scrape together? Those you peeled the backing from and slapped on – well, everything.
Don’t believe me? Ask someone from that era of neon, leg warmers, and high ponytails. (Just don’t call us “old”) We’ll happily wax nostalgic about the paper bag book covers we plastered with drawings and stickers. Or the furniture we decoupaged (before DIY crafters decided such a thing was “in”). And let’s not forget about the time and effort we spent applying the tiniest stickers to our fingernails (again, before any fashion-forward salon owner picked up on the trend and decided to post tutorials on Instagram). Before scrap books and handmade cards adopted them, Generation X worshiped and adored stickers.
And me? Yeah, I never outgrew that part of my life. So you find them all over my workspace. Looking at a bunch of black boxes while I search for words doesn’t help the creative process. Instead, it drives me crazy (along the same lines as sitting in silence). I need a computer and laptop to work as a freelancer; there’s no getting around that. But I DON’T need to sit at a “professional” desk and pretend I’m a normal human being. (Because we’ll all agreed “normal” isn’t in my vocabulary) I’m imaginative and creative and – well, I’m ME. So it only makes sense to set up a spot that reflects that. (By the way, it’s a key perk or working as a freelancer)
Where you work shouldn’t be BORING!
Whenever I encounter a new sticker, it invariably ends up SOMEWHERE on my desk. Maybe it’s the tower, or around the edge of the monitor. Other times, they migrate out to my laptop. The images and words make me smile, invigorate me, and encourage me when I’m down. I patronize plenty of artists, and they often slide stickers into the package when I order a new print. Or my husband will leave a sticker on my desk – either one he picked out for me or one he happened to get with something he ordered. Like the stuffed animals and Pops that adorn my desk, they remind me who I am. I’m not a mindless drone, churning out work day in and day out (been there, done that). I’m a freelance writer – in control of my life and the work I do!
Maybe stickers AREN’T your thing. But I guarantee SOMETHING out there is. What is it? What do you have (or need to add) to your workspace to make it feel complete?