Blogger: Wendy Lawton
I have a book that I love. It’s The Writer’s Desk by Jill Krementz. Krementz is the wife of the late Kurt Vonnegut and is considered one of the century’s great author portraitists. The book feels like a window into the writing habitats of some of the authors we love best. There’s a picture of E. B. White (Charlotte’s Web) writing on 1960s typewriter on a plank table in his boathouse. There’s not a thing out of place. Joan Didion also writes in a relatively sterile environment. Roy Blount, jr., on the other hand sits in front of old computer in what I would consider chaos— a flurry of paper, magazines and books every which way on his shelves and a bottle of water close at hand. Eudora Welty sits at her desk in her bedroom. We look at her over the bedposts seated at her desk profiled by the light streaming in her windows. Each writer shares a paragraph or two about they attack writing.
Aside from the gorgeous photography, the reason I love this book is that it reminds me that each writer is the product of not only their imagination but their own setting. When I was most prolific as a writer I was writing at my desk on an enclosed porch at our farm, with windows to my right. Even now, when I write I often get so engrossed in the writing that I’m surprised when I look up to realize I am in a different place. I expect to see the old locusts out the window.
I know many writers can write in different places– maybe a porch for summer and in front of a fireplace in winter. Other writers, me included, cannot imagine moving around. The place informs the action. We could no more write at a dining table than we could give a dinner party at our desks. I did, however, once write the last several chapters of a book hidden away in a friend’s master bathroom. Happily it was a breezy summer setting with room for a portable desk. (That’s what a deadline will do for you.)
How about you. Where do you write? Are you able to be flexible and write anywhere there is a chair and a place to hold your laptop? Or is there one place that allows your words to flow? Do you need complete quiet or can you write with people around? How about music? If you could choose any setting what would it look like?
I’m looking forward to learning more about you from the answers to these questions. I just wish we could get Jill Krementz to photograph you at work.
How important is the place in which a writer chooses to write? Click to Tweet
The perfect writing environment– how important is it? Click to Tweet
Where do you like to write? Writers share their habitats. Click to Tweet
What an interesting post, Wendy, “down home” and highly satisfying to my curiosity. I’ll be waiting to see other writers’ comments.
At the moment, I have a huge lovely office that my husband built for me in our log home. However, we are moving to a smaller place, which better fits my husband’s retirement budget. I’ll still have my own office, which takes me back to those days when I didn’t have an office, just a small cleared place beside the family computer on a desk stacked high with all manner of clutter, but I’m like Wendy. When I’m writing, I forget where I am and live a very happy life within my novel!
Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts
I am the same way, Sue. Once the writing starts flowing, I become immersed in that world and the environment around me fades away. It’s wonderful!
True here too, Sue. Sometimes it’s tough to return to the real world.
I found it challenging to move from what I’d always felt was my dream home– a hundred-year-old farmhouse with extensive gardens and 30 acres of almonds– to a brand new home in town. Though I lost much of the historical charm, the efficiency and state of the art amenities made my life much easier. Before my office and writing space (two separate spaces) were picture book charming but I’d never be able to give up the perfectly planned organization this new house gives me.
This is your chance to plan for the perfect writing space.
Thank you, Wendy, I needed to read those very wise words!
Kathy Boyd Fellure
Your dream home should be a story, Wendy. I am mesmerized! I can actually see it on the big screen. Suggested title for your book ~ A Garden of Words from the Farm, by Wendy Lawton.
I’m a porch dweller too, Wendy. In fact, when my husband and I were house hunting, the screened porch sold me on our current home. The moment our realtor opened the door into the flora and fauna draped little corner of the house I knew I’d found my Writer Cave – Sold! Easiest commission the mustard jacket clad Willy Lowman ever made!
Now, the annoying, pay-the-bills writing require an on the fly approach. No time to a settle into the porch when you’ve got a two-hour deadline and an editor who twitches ten minutes after assigning the story. In those cases I make camp anywhere Wi-Fi is available – and possibly, coffee. Starbucks sends me delightful Christmas cards.
My perfect writing spot, hands-down, a water view. Someday, when Lotto finally shines on me, the first thing I’ll buy (post family distribution and charity) – a lake house.
Isn’t that the truth? Reality trumps fantasy every time when it comes to writing.
My desk. In my office. Door closed. Total silence. (I am one of those who hears dialogue in her head.) Looking up-valley, with no civilization. The cat asleep on the desk, or trying to help me type. (Yea. No. Whatever.)
A kitty on the desk can only improve the writing!
I’m a total silence worker as well.
A story isn’t a story without a cat in it.! At least that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it. Second best would be the cat on the desk!
The cat IS on the desk. I finally made a little puffy bed for her to keep her off the keyboard. Totally impossible animal to control…
I LOVE to see where writers live/work! I’ll have to check this book out.
I have a lovely writing desk near a window. It’s very tidy and welcoming. And I rarely write there. Instead, I camp out at the dining room table with my husband off to my left watching TV and the French doors with a view of the creek and woods to my right. Thistle is often curled at my feet.
I will go off to the lovely (lonely) desk if I’m on deadline or get into a scene that requires zero distractions, but generally I like to write in the midst of the hub bub of life. I did a blog post with pictures of both spots a while back http://sarahloudinthomas.com/2012/10/22/where-do-you-write/
French doors? Creek? Woods? Ahhh……
Wow, Sarah. I’m coming to your house for that creek, the woods, and French doors!
The French doors are where the black bear we call “Mama” comes to sit and gaze longingly inside. These days she has an amour (BIG guy) following her around and I’m pretty sure she’d like to come in and rest on the sofa a minute to avoid his advances. She gets the same look when her cubs are small. And from all appearances there will be yet another litter to nurse next spring. Poor Mama!
We have also seen a bobcat, racoons, opossum, squirrels, chipmunks, and a world of birds including a great blue heron. Now that I think about it, why would I write anywhere else?!?
Sarah, I loved the glimpse at your writing spaces! We’re alike in the “best-laid-plans” department. My desk is most often abandoned for the chair right next to it!
It sounds wonderful. *sigh* Except for the bears! A pane of glass between you and an amorous male bear? Hmmm.
Sounds like a great book, Wendy. Sometimes pictures like that go around on Facebook, and I love getting an almost-peek inside the writer’s head.
I am blessed to have a small den/office, but the desk is strewn with paper. I love the look of organization, but there is something comforting about having my paper notes at my fingertips and not hidden away in a file drawer. It seems to be true for me — out of sight, out of mind. I prefer quiet, but I’d like to try the different kind of quiet at a Starbucks or Panera. I haven’t because I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to pack up my laptop and notes and then spread out there. And then what do I do with my accoutrements when I have to use the facilities? Okay, maybe that’s too much detail for this comment. 🙂 I think I’d just as soon bring a good book. My biggest distraction in my writing space is the pile of mending and sewing projects that share it. Their shouting is deafening at times.
Ideal setting? Mountain view with a crackling fire and a letter from my agent and/or editor saying, “Great work! Can’t wait to read the next!”
Love this topic and can’t wait to return and read about others’ writing spaces.
Meghan, I’m giggling at your sewing projects. Beside my laptop right now – 6 badges waiting to be sewn on the Boy Scout uniform. 🙂
I haven’t ventured out in the big wide world with my laptop either. Solitude in a familiar place is a better companion for me.
That’s the reason I’ve always had separate places for different tasks. I have an office and a studio and they are far apart.
Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts
Thank you for the picture of Eudora Welty, Wendy. Her short story, “Why I Live at the P.O.” is on my all-time favorites list.
I can and have written almost anywhere: in doctors waiting rooms, in airports, on buses, in front of a typewriter with sticky keys. But my current favorite places to write are on the couch in the living room (with my feet up) and in bed early in the morning and late at night. Thankfully, I have a non-sticky keyed lap top now to use in my favorite places, but I still bring my trusty notebook and pen with me when I know I’m in for a 45-minute wait at the doctor’s office.
Usually, I can block out noise–a loud t.v, barking dogs, garbage trucks–but I cannot write if music is playing. I adore music, but I am strangely wired in a way that I cannot ignore even soft music. When it is playing, I cannot accomplish anything. I am completely distracted by it. So I can write just about anywhere, no matter how noisy, as long as there’s no music. 🙂
Have a great week!
Same with me– no music. When I was writing historicals I’d sometimes listen to period music before beginning to get into the era, but never while writing.
I been wanting to get a new laptop alosn with wi-fi so I can move from room to room and even outside to my patio. Right now I have recently bought desktop that uses cable in my den. My den is great!! It has a corner desk along with a Tiffany light hanging over it. On the walls I have four old original Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant movie posters (“The Innocents”, “Walk Don’t Run”, “The King & I”, and “An Affair to Remember”) of different sizes. A fifth movie poster (“The Grass is Greener”) hangs outside of my den. I also have a love seat and matching ottoman in my den that has neat floor lamp. My den wouldn’t be complete without my barrister bookcase and floor globe.
Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts
I would love to see your posters. Those are some of my favorite movies. But then again, anything with Cary Grant in it is a favorite of mine. The Grass is Greener was a wonderful movie as well. Sad, but a great story.
“The Grass is Greener” is not a sad movie but a comedy with Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant along with Jean Simmons and Robert Mitchum.
Christine Dorman / @looneyfilberts
Sorry. I was thinking of “How Green Was My Valley.” It was early in the morning. Apparently I shouldn’t have commented at all.
I just saw recently for the first time “How Green Was My Valley” and I loved it.
I shouldn’t type in early in the morning. I noticed the big typo that I did in the first line of my response.
I write anywhere and everywhere except where it’s quiet and dead.
I like measured energy around me, but not too much. My fav is in my recliner with the laptop on a pillow on my laptop with the TV ON… early mornings. If not the TV, then a movie on Amazon playing in a small window on my screen. Yep. I’m slow except when I’m fast.
Starbucks (or a decent coffee shop) is next, but the chair has to be comfortable and I need an outlet (power). It’s hard for me to write when I can’t be online.
My office is awesome. Surrounded by my books, and a shaded window. If I’m researching Hebrew and Greek or Theology, I need my books. And my Keurig coffee maker and all. I steal moments to write in snippets, and am a hopeless procrastinator, which is why I’m here now, instead of working on my book. But first, I’ll check Facebook.
Oh good, someone else who likes background noise!
I always loved what Louis L’amour said– he could write anywhere even in the middle of a busy intersection.
Wendy, I’m curious–and this is personal, so please don’t feel you have to answer!!–but do you still write? If I remember correctly, you used to write romance novels. I used to write category novels in the wee hours of the morning to escape the intensity of working full time and loading up on engineering courses. I will always write, and I’d imagine you feel the same!
Anyway, when the family is quiet, I write in our living room with a laptop desk. When the house is empty, I write in my office.
I love my office! It’s a cheery room with a large desk to spread out my stuff, and I have reference books, kitschy supplies, and a big bulletin board with inspirational pictures and quotes.
I never wrote romance. I write middle grade historical fiction– stories about real girls from history who made a difference. I also wrote four teen books and a nonfiction book. Plus I’ve done quite a bit of ghost-writing.
I still have one contract outstanding, so yes I’m still writing (or should be writing) but this job is all-encompassing and it’s hard to carve out time.
Wonderful! Thank you so much for replying–I’ll be on the lookout for your books. A friend of mine got me hooked on Ann Rinaldi books a while back. I really enjoy books about real girls from history who make a difference!
It is hard to carve out time. 🙁
I loved this, Wendy. And it’s so fun to see everyone’s writing places and dream-writing places. I do best in a quiet place, sometimes with little instrumental music playing. Usually, though, I write in silence. Especially with my kiddos home for summer, I write early in the morning at our kitchen table and watch the sun come up, or I write in my project room/writing room, which is a big mess. But, I can look at the mountains and the clouds moving by.
My ideal place is near water. There’s just something soothing about listening to a stream running past and watching the sun sparkle on the surface. Or the ocean with its waves licking at the shore. Love this!
Come sit opposite me at the table. We’ll leave the door open to hear the creek better. Although we’ll have to keep an eye out for Mama!
Sounds like a plan, Sarah. 🙂 Yep, definitely want to watch out for Mama and Big Guy. 😉
Oh, the water. I am so with you there! For me, the smaller the body of water the better– a lake is more endearing than an ocean, a trickling stream even more dear, and a tiny brook in that stream the perfect place to nestle, back against a tree trunk, and write.
I meant to comment earlier, Amanda. I think one of my favorite places is sitting near a creek in the mountains, with the sun warming me as I write and dream. Though smaller bodies of water are pretty great too! The quiet lapping of waves on the shore or dock. Oh yeah. 🙂
I love the water too, Jeanne. Sitting near a lake feeds me. It’s where I read, sit, dream, plot, come up with ideas. That being said, I think I’d be a terrible writer if I lived too close to a beach!
I agree. I’d love to be beside a creek so I could watch birds and critters as I work.
My husband’s schedule is such this summer that we’ve had to get up earlier, so I’ve had a bit of time before the kiddos wake up to write.
I. love. it.
Isn’t that the best, Meghan?! I’ve been getting up early too. Most mornings. 🙂
I don’t necessarily have one place I write. I work full time from home at a separate job and that’s what I use my desk and office for. With my fiction, I usually sit on the sofa or in my overstuffed armchair in my bedroom. Something about sitting at a desk is too stiff-feeling (and thus, doesn’t let the creativity flow as much), I guess. 🙂
I prefer silence when I write, but if I’m too tired and fear I’ll fall asleep (or get distracted!) at home, I’ll high-tail it to the nearest Starbucks or library.
Yep, I write at Starbucks or other coffee shops too, especially during summer when kids are home, and a sitter is caring for them. 🙂
Starbucks for the activity around you or the caffeine in your cup, Lindsay? 🙂
I’m with you, Lindsay. I tend to have job-specific areas. It’s great for organization.
Ooh, neat topic, Wendy!
I try to write at my desk, but I’m typically pretty flexible. Either silence or music usually, but I can write when people are talking too. When I’m editing or need to focus extra hard on a difficult scene, I’ll crank up my music in my headphones to drown out everything else so I can tune out everything but my story… or I wait until 11pm and work on it when there’s dead silence in the house.
Flexible is good! I wish I could claim that.
Sometimes, Wendy, I wish I couldn’t. I’m coming into more of a routine now, which is helping focus my active mind.
In my little cottage-house, I migrate to a few spots all within the same 400 or so square feet. Quaint and cozy it is. 🙂 I write sometimes at my desk tucked away in the bedroom, more often in the old wingback chair next to it, often at the dining room table, many times on the sofa, and in the splendidest (<— cottages change the rules of grammar) of moments, on my back patio at dusk in the stillness. Quiet is best, but not always feasible… so I'll listen to instrumental/classical music sometimes as I write. My brain isn't strong enough to listen to music with lyrics at the same time as I write– the lyrics would inevitably slip into my WIP! For those providing links to their writing spaces, here's a peek at my desk and beloved wingback chair: http://www.melissatagg.com/2012/07/welcome-mat-wednesday-amanda-dykes.html
What a crisp writing space! Love the colors and how everything is organized!
Loved the tour, Amanda! Thanks for sharing. There are some great ideas there.
Looks lovely, Amanda!
I’m in awe of your systems, Amanda. Brilliant. Everyone needs to click over and see what you’ve done.
I love peeking at other writers’ working environments! I write about the early 20th century, and my writing room reflects that. The colors are pearl-gray and pale pink. On the walls hang images of antique typewriters, 1920s-era Chicago, and a vintage beaded evening bag that’s too pretty to hide in a drawer. Depending on what I’m writing, I like either silence or instrumental music, or a period-appropriate soundtrack (Cole Porter!) on Pandora. When I emerge from a writing session blinking and vaguely surprised that it’s 2013–that’s a good writing day. 🙂
Jenny, is your fiction set in Chicago-past?
Yes, my first novel is set in that toddlin’ town in the Roaring Twenties. 🙂
Spoken like a true historical writer. Isn’t that first blink when coming out of the era a shock. I call it being in the zone.
Has anyone tried using a standing desk? They’re supposed to be a healthier alternative to sitting all day. But I remember how much my legs ached from standing all day when I worked retail (and I was a lot younger then). I guess the only way to know is to try it.
I’ve seen Beth Vogt use one (pictures on Facebook). It looks great!
I looked into it after reading about Michael Hyatt using one. I can see great benefit in being able to walk around more easily. But I’d need to sell a few (thousand) books before I could afford one. 🙂 What about the kitchen countertop or a breakfast bar area?
My colleague, Rachelle Gardner, uses her standing desk far more than her seated one. She feels more productive at it.
I stand at my computer at work, and it is comfortable. But after six or so hours of standing, I’m ready to come home and sit at my desk.
When I’m on a bike ride I’m obviously not writing, but I’m still scene building and speaking lines of dialogue into the wind.
When it’s cold, the puffy recliner is a warm place to write. When it’s warm, the dining table next to the open window is my favorite spot.
At sunset, I like to sit on the front porch step with a view of coastal clouds spilling over the mountains. But nighttime writing is my favorite. All the windows open, interrupted only by the screech of an owl or a raccoon rifling through the iris leaves and crunching on snails (no joke, this really happened).
Napkins and a pen always reside in my glove compartment to absorb sudden spills of scene ideas, and more recently I took my notebook to bed with me when I was sick.
Music selections include Enya, and on the complete other end of the spectrum, U2.
Kathy Boyd Fellure
I love your sunset porch view, Jenni. How inspiring. And Enya, sigh…
Jenni, out on my bike is one of my favorite places to brainstorm and let scenes brew, too. You’re a kindred spirit!
As a homeschooling mom with three kiddos always around and a husband who works half the time from home, I’ve learned to write anywhere. 🙂
My favorite place is my roll top desk. Stole it–er, bought it at an estate sale. What a deal! And it’s a newer one designed for computers. It’s perfect. I’m in love with it.
I also write at Starbucks a lot. I can tune out the sound there, but home? Not so much. Those people need me. 🙂
I also use our library’s conference room a lot in the afternoons when my husband’s home.
Right now I’m writing from the basement. It’s unheated so it isn’t usable in the winter. But in the summer when it’s ninety-something outside? It’s perfect. So I probably won’t be visiting Starbucks and the library until next fall.
Oh, I haven’t tried the library yet. I need to do that.
They all know me there. 🙂
I’ve often looked at our gorgeous church library which goes mostly unused during the week and thought that some writer could have a perfect writing atmosphere in exchange for opening the library during the week. You wouldn’t have many visitors during the week.
And about the people who need you– I’m glad you put them first. That’s the one thing about writing I dislike– when you are facing your computer, your back is to those you love. We have to be intentional about not shutting family out.
That’s a great idea about the church library, Wendy.
It is always, always a struggle to balance writing and family, isn’t it? When the writing is flowing, it’s hard to spend much time in the real world. I guess we should be the thankful we’re not in the writing zone every day! I need breaks.
I have a pretty office with an old kitchen table for a desk, but I usually end up writing in bed with my laptop, or at my daughter’s theater rehearsals. Very noisy there. Ideally I’d like a quiet house on the beach, but until my life settles down, I’m writing when and where I can!
And it’s good training for the days when they’ll be all grown and gone and you’ll be writing at the beach house. 🙂
I loved this post, Wendy, and just ordered a copy of The Writer’s Desk. You might enjoy my blog of writer’s garden spots since I’ve recently added photos of the writers’ offices too! http://novelgarden.blogspot.com/
I love writing in my office with movie soundtracks (no lyrics, please) playing in the background. But Starbucks or Panera are great writing spots too. For those who like the background “white” noises of a coffee shop, have you tried this site? http://coffitivity.com/ I love it! And you can play it with your own music as well!
Loving all these comments and seeing how others work!
I LOVE seeing where writers write! It’s interesting to see all the different settings.
Forget the annual garden tour, do you think we could arrange a tour of writer habitats?
Erin Keeley Marshall
Lately I’ve found peace and quiet to write in the midst of a noisy local Starbuck’s. I’ve been surprised to be able to crank out words that aren’t too bad there, seeing how I struggle to write when I’m home with my kids. I think the difference is not the noise, but the anticipation of something being demanded of me. Away from home I can relax more.
I’ve been thankful for this training ground in a new place because I know my time is limited, so I make the most of the focused minutes. It’s been working pretty well and growing me in a new way as a writer.
That’s interesting– that learning to write in a new setting grows you as a writer. I’m guessing that might be true for all of us.
I write at home in my loft office. Only in my office. We live in a log cabin in the woods, so when I look out the windows, I feel like a bird in her nest. I love it. I’m one of those “I need quiet!” type of writers. 🙂
Neat post, Wendy~
A loft office in a cabin in the woods. . . time to invoke the “thou shalt not covet” commandment.
I’ve heard the story from Judy about Lauraine locking you in the backroom to write. It’s one of my favorites!
Yep. It’s true, except it was actually bathroom, not back room. (You are too kind.) Lauraine insisted I get off my computer since I write and edit and create near-perfect first drafts that take a long time. she made me try an AlphaSmart– where you can’t really edit– and because I need silence and we were having a writer’s retreat, the bathroom was the only room available.
I got the book done and found that, without editing as I go, I could do 5000 words a day with gusts up to 7500. 🙂
I think “backroom” was a typo.
Ahem, when Lauraine threatened to lock ME in her bathroom to finish my novel she said nothing about the “breezy summer setting” or the portable desk. 🙂 The Alpha Smart is a terrific idea–especially for the can’t-turn-off-the-internal-editor types like me.
I usually write in my spare bedroom/office. However, summer sunshine is rare in the Pacific Northwest so I like to sit outside in the patio when the weather allows.
Fun topic, Wendy. I’ve checked The Writing Desk out so many times I’ve practically worn out the library’s copy.
Oh Wendy, I love that book too! I stumbled across it in the writing section at my library years ago, and had to purchase a copy for my office.
I have to have a place where my records, notes, and references are organized and easily accessible. I made two huge cork boards for story boarding and hung them above a wide desk I found on craigslist and painted poppy red. With a freshly brewed latte at hand, it is my favorite place to write.
But really, I write anywhere and everywhere. At night I have a game where I find a hidden corner of the house and race to see how many words I can write before my laptop battery dies. If I ever upgrade my computer, this may prove problematic for my sleep regimen!
I love your description. I think anyone could write better on a poppy red desk.
I’d love to have an office overlooking a garden, where I could throw open the windows and hear nothing but birds twittering outside. Instead, I write at my kitchen table, often (in the summer, especially) with kids hovering about. It’s not the silence I want, but if I stick to it, I can do some serious writing. That is, until I hear that horrible word from across the room. “Mom…”
But once those kids are gone and you are looking out your window at a pristine garden, you’ll wish you could hear that “mom” drift across the room once again.
Back when I had a huge house with a separate office and a gorgeous wrap around desk, I found I couldn’t write a word there. Research? Absolutely. Marketing, hanging out with the kids who congregated on the wicker sofa? Definitely. But to write? For that, I took my laptop out to the pool or downstairs to sit in a cozy chair. Sometimes I would head for a coffee shop.
Times–and locations–have changed, and recently so has my eyesight. Since I switched to contacts, I’ve exchanged my trusty Mac PowerBook for an iMac desktop with a nice large screen situated on an old table-turned-desk I purchased way back in my Louisiana days. A mirror propped behind the desk give me a 360 degree view of the room and doubles the light from the windows. I’m loving the writing-in-one-place thing, however I did have to give in and purchase a good desk chair with proper support. Now I can work happily all day.
As to music? My preference is writing in silence, though I do find inspiration in a good Vivaldi CD occasionally.
Thanks you for sharing the book title, Wendy. I’m going to have to put it on my to-be-read list.
I too have a giant screen Mac. It spoils you for anything portable. when I travel and work off my iPad, I feel as if I’m working with a handicap.
I added a 23 inch LED monitor to my desk two weeks ago and could never go back to serious lengths of writing time with just my laptop screen. It is amazing how freeing it is to have reference windows up on the laptop monitor and leave my WIP up in full screen glory on the second monitor. It’s even more helpful when I’m working on editing projects for clients. Best $120 I’ve spent on my career this year.
Wendy, loved this post! Made me really think about what I would like in a writing environment. I’m happy that I have a room that is “mine”. A Zambian painting hangs on the wall above my desk there are large windows on either side. I can hear a variety of birds singing and It is a good, quiet place to write, my place. I think, however, that it would be amazing to be able to write outdoors, high up in the mountains or on a quiet stretch of rocky coast.
I’ve tried to take time away and go someplace to write and I find it’s not as productive as you’d think.
I was once on deadline and took a hotel room nearby hoping to get totally immersed. It was so lonely. . . didn’t work at all.
Kathy Boyd Fellure
For the first time in my writing life, I have an office and I love writing in the peace and quiet of the seclusion there. My two doggies are usually resting on the sofa behind me or at my feet. An immense window opens wide over my desk with full view of a flourishing plum tree and my rose bed.
For years while home schooling my two youngest children my typewriter and computer resided side by side in the corner closet writing nook in my bedroom. I took off the doors and created an other world working with the limitations I had at that time.
I relish my current writing space. (Pictures on Pinterest)
But my second home is at Lake Tahoe and most of my first novel was written from a chaise lounge on the cabin deck with a postcard view of the lake, in the main living room, or on a private beach where I wrote by hand on paper. I usually had the beach blissfully to myself.
Though I must admit, at home I’ll venture out to the back patio when the creek is running in the wetlands area behind our simple rural home in the foothills of California Gold County.
No TV, I do play music before I write and over many years have assembled a soundtrack that compliments my story.
Truth be told, I would write with a lipstick on a napkin if that was all I had when inspiration hit!
But ah the romance of sense of place that sets the tone for writing!
I love it– lipstick on a napkin! There’s a true writer.
What a great conversation-generating post, Wendy! I can almost picture your old locusts. 🙂 For me, I have to be able to see outside. Creation inspires me, so whether it’s at my desk right by the windows in my study, in my recliner looking out the windows of my living room, or taking my laptop to the park, the beauty, trees, flowers and wildlife feed my soul. And that fuels my writing.
Its good that you know what fuels your creativity. All of these setting comments today speak to what it takes to get us to our creative best.
What a delightful post! And so lovely hearing about everyone’s writing havens…so many sound right out of storybooks. 🙂 I’m afraid I don’t have any place very interesting to share, though I love the ideas of writing outside, near water, or in a special little cottage or room. I’ve often found it helpful to go to a library in order to really focus, and then always with earbuds and music–it helps me not get distracted by other activity and such around me. I usually have a specific soundtrack or two for each story I’m working on that also helps me get into that setting and characters. But sometimes I need silence too, more often at home. There I write at a desk, on my bed with my laptop, or, for my first novel, many a late night at the breakfast room table after everyone else was in bed. 🙂
You sound like one of those writers who can write anywhere. That’s a blessing. and, by the way, congratulations of being named a finalist in ACFW’s Genesis competition. Proof that your method works.
Janet Ann Collins
You’ve inspired me. For years I’ve written at my desk beside a window but lately my computer has become so full of social networking, e-mail messages, e-zines I really want to read someday, etc. that it’s hard to focus on my writing.After reading the post and all the comments I’ve decided to pull out an old computer with no Wi-Fi, not connect it to DSL, and transfer my writing to it on a memory stick. Then I’ll take it to another room and use it for writing and nothing else. I hope I’ll be able to open newer documents.
What a bold idea, Janet! A computer not connected to the internet. Now THAT would definitely increase productivity.
Sophie Jordan (author of the YA Firelight trilogy) swears by her AlphaSmart 3000: http://amzn.com/B002WJ8VLM. I played around with hers at a conference in April and could definitely see how it might boost productivity. It is basically a keyboard with a word processor; it only shows between 3-5 lines at a time, depending on the model, so it helps cut back on self-editing when you’re wanting to just bust through a first draft. At the end of the day, it easily transfers to your computer. Pretty cool.
I had been writing in the basement, but my family helped me turn a small bedroom into my writing room.
It’s so nice not to fold up my laptop when the guys want to play ping pong or watch TV down there.
I’m so excited to finally have my own work space with reference books on a shelf, my CD player on a table, and a place to spread out my maps of the fictional town I created.
Thanks for sharing this fun post today.
Fun! Did you look at the website Amanda Dykes referenced featuring how she works her reference materials? It sounds like (with your map) you two are kindred spirits.
Totally flexible. I write wherever I am. Most of the time it is at my desk at home but I’ve written at various coffee shops, friend and family houses, work, hotels, planes, anywhere. My preference is to write at a busy coffeeshop during the pouring rain.
You are blessed to be that flexible. How do you handle the people who come by your coffee shop table and want to talk about what you’re doing?
It seems like most writers can write anywhere. I wish I was one of you! I’ve tried to write away from home (for over twenty years I’ve tried), even somewhere that isn’t my desk, working at my desk top computer… and just can’t.
I also need it to be dead quiet. I’m home alone, and I still have to wear earplugs to really focus and get lost in the story I’m creating. So, travel for me is a productivity killer. I can still research, and plot, and jot down snippets and notes. I can even edit. But I can’t do first draft writing anywhere but at my desk, in the 1/3 of the living room that is my office (we rearranged our tiny living space and gave up our bedroom to be the “den” with the TV and the exercise equipment. We sleep in the tiny spare bedroom that’s about big enough for a bed and dresser and little else. The only other rooms in the house are the kitchen and the bathroom).
It’s been a very exciting week around here too. I added a new bookcase to the mix! http://loribenton.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-event-new-bookcase.html
What fun to get to see your workspace and the new bookcase. It looks like a wonderful spot. I’m with you on lack of flexibility.
I spent a day at Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House years ago when I was creating a set of Little Women Dolls for Ashton Drake Galleries. Her desk was a tiny board about 2′ x 3′ attached to the wall. When I thought of the amazing stories that came from that setting. . .
I wonder how many of these settings will be looked at some day with wonder. I can’t wait until people read Burning Sky. They are going to look at your workspace in awe, Lori.
Being an Alice aficionado I loved your use of the word “frabjous.” Twas brillig! Simply brillig.
I write between a cup of coffee and a dream. Seems like most everyone here does, as well.
In the spaces between strangers’ conversations, the side streets littered with a hundred walking stories, the cafes where intellectuals get profoundly buzzed and share the secrets of the cosmos swirling around in their latte;
A writer shakes off the sweat of his.her city and stands there, catching words pouring down like rain.
When aren’t we writing?
You’ve hit on one of the truths about writers– we are writing whether we have a keyboard under our fingers or not. thanks for reminding us, Larry.
I only have one place to write, at my computer in my living area. Wish I could find another place but I don’t have a laptop or tablet.
Kathy Boyd Fellure
I did so good all day long. I resisted ordering yet another book. But my local bookstore, Hein & Co, is now locating, The Writing Deck, for little old me!
I am fascinated with writer’s spaces and have ordered a used copy of this book. Thanks for sharing it. Currently I have a writing chair in the living room. Two dogs at my feet and one on my shoulder. He really has no respect for my personal space. I am in the process of getting rid of hundreds of books from my teaching years (because kindle has convinced me I must) and will be able to arrange a much better area in my office which I rarely write in because the wi-fi doesn’t reach it. Yet. 🙂 You can see my writing chair here: http://hoosierink.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-writing-cave.html
And my inconsiderate writing buddy here:
I wrote most of my book at a cafe near my house with a cup of coffee and a pleasant buzz in the background…I cannot do any real work at home-only editing. Btw, I work longhand…how about you?
Dale S. Rogers
I can usually write almost anywhere as long as I have a pen & paper (even in the car). But when I’m working on the computer, I finally have an official study. (For years I typed in the dining room.) It helps. Now if I could only teach our neighbor to stop vrooming his truck just below the window.