T.J. Tomlin’s Writing Shed

Ever since I began sharing my desire for a writing shed with the readers of The Way of Improvement Leads Home, I have learned that I am not alone in my dream of one day working in a backyard shed.

It also seems that many of my readers are better than I am at making this shedworking dream a reality.

One such person is T.J. Tomlin, assistant professor of history at the University of Northern Colorado.  T.J. is at work on what promises to be an excellent book that examines early American religion through print culture, particularly almanacs.  I have read his dissertation and it has much potential to reshape how we think about American religious history and popular religion.

When I learned that T.J. bought a writing shed (on Craigslist!) I had to feature him and his shed at the blog.  Here are some pictures of his shed and a short interview.

JF: Why a writing shed?

TJT:  I first encountered (and was an instant convert to) the concept of “shedworking” about five years ago. The cost kept me from going for it until this past spring, when I found my shed on craigslist. I prefer to work in a quiet, private space rather than in public or with any kind of background noise. I also have three-year old twins. They make my life far richer and my house far noisier. Although I have a comfortable office at my university, it is 40 minutes away. Many of my days, nights, and weekends are spent writing, grading, and preparing courses from home. Working from a shed offers a clear, physical separation of work from the rest of my life that has been very refreshing.

JF: How has having the shed changed or sustained your writing habits?

TJT:  By offering an attractive, quiet, and convenient workspace, the shed has made it easier to structure my days around writing. I typically do two sessions: an early morning and an afternoon, with reading and other tasks in-between. It has also been far easier to remain focused on my work and not drawn away by, say, laundry or other in-home distractions. For me, shedworking really does feel like “going to the office.”

JF: Do you plan to write in the shed year-round?

TJT: Yes. In fact, I’m looking forward to the winter. We get a lot of snow and consistent sun. I’ll use a space heater or a patio heater in the winter months, but the shed is well insulated. Thus far, I’ve been able to work in the summer by using curtains during the heat of the day. At some point, I may need to purchase a portable evaporative cooler or air conditioner.

JF: Any drawbacks to working in a shed?

I would prefer to use my desktop PC rather than my laptop. However, I am afraid that the lack of climate control could damage it. In time, I suspect I could find a solution. Otherwise, I have not discovered any major drawbacks. Shedworking has been every bit as enjoyable as I had hoped it would be.

Thanks, TJ!  I am officially jealous.  Maybe someone will read this post and my other posts on writing sheds and build me a shed in exchange for free publicity for his/her shed building company at The Way of Improvement Leads Home!  Let’s work out a deal.  Any takers?  (OK–enough wishful thinking!)

Do you work in a writing shed?  We would be happy to consider featuring you here at the blog.

4 thoughts on “T.J. Tomlin’s Writing Shed

  1. I love it! I've wanted a writing shed for years. Unfortunately, I'm not handy, have almost no tools, and wood hates me. However, I suddenly got the bug (again) and found your site while looking for information. Anyway, keep up the great work. Thanks for posting this.


  2. Craigslist? Really? I've been wanting a writing shed forever, even though my sons are men and on their own, and I have a perfectly wonderful office. What appeals to me is the mental “going-to-work” a space outside my home would give. Besides, my lawnmower has a shed. Shouldn't I?


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