Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Writing Space

Writing spaces are personal. They need to be a safe space to let your thoughts run free, a place without distractions so that you can get down to the writing.

But waiting for a perfect spot is just inviting writer's block.  No space is sacred, no place completely quiet.  Dogs or children or significant others will always be competing for your attention.  So you just have to do the best you can with what you've got.

My space is a desk by the window. More than anything else, I need natural light to write by. Whether I'm at Panera or Starbucks or my office, I need to be outside or by the window.  I used to try to write at the office on my lunch breaks but without natural light, I found that my brain just sort of shut down.

But my perfect space is at home. I have a plain Ikea desk, a dasKeyboard...which is an old-school mechanical switch keyboard.  It makes serious clicking sounds when I type that say, "I AM A WRITER!!!"  It's the kind of manly keyboard Hemingway would have used if he hadn't written all his stories in the blood of a freshly killed lion.

Usually one or both of my dogs is with me, and I'm almost always writing early in the morning before Matt is awake.  I face the wall so as not to be tempted by all the books and toys in my room, and I use the Freedom App to turn off my internet while I work otherwise I get sucked into Wikipedia while researching some small thing.  I also use WriteRoom at full screen so that when I'm writing, it's just me, the keyboard, and the words.  No formatting, no Internet, no nothing.

Sometimes I need music, sometimes I need silence.  Right now, I'm going through a period of silence. For FML, I blasted party music that I hated but that got me in the mood.

But I can work just about anywhere.

So, what's your writing space like?


  1. at the moment, I'm at the table in the kitchen. It's central in the house so I can keep an eye on everyone and everything. And there's lots of windows - I also love the light. And I just like to be able to look out and see if that car I heard is pulling into my driveway or not LOL If I can't match a noise to what is making it fairly quickly, it drives me nuts :D

    I almost always need quiet to write. However, with the zombie novella I just wrote, I put on headphones and wrote to Rob Dougan. I did this mostly to cancel out the noise of my sweet at-home-for-the-summer kidlets, but I tried to write without Mr. Dougan one day when they were gone and couldn't do it lol First book I've ever needed music going to write :)

    One of these days I want an actual office, with a door I can close. But for now, the kitchen table it is :)

    1. I'm with you on the noise thing. When I'm home alone, I write with the door open for the same reason.

      Isn't that weird with music? When I was rewriting The Walls, I listened to the Broadway soundtrack of American Idiot on repeat for weeks. I'd just seen the show, so that might have had something to do with it, but I found myself totally unable to write without it. Now, I can't listen to it at all.

  2. Lately, I am working on not being so precious about where I write but it is definitely a work in progress. What I have noticed is that I have different places that I do different kinds of writing. All writing for work is done at my home office desk, where I am surrounded by computer screens and To Do lists. I alternate throughout the day to listening to local news and NPR. And when I feel like I've had my mental fill I put on classical music. It sometimes feels completely counter-intuitive that I get anything interesting other than writing in this space.

    I write all of my blog posts and academic writing for Creative Thinking at the table on the back porch or at the dinning room table. I am only allowed to have dictionary.com open, if the internet is on at all. I do not do laundry. I do not listen to music. I ignore the cats. I often get more done here than I give myself credit for.

    When I really want to escape, I go to the library two towns over and hide away in a boring study cube on the 3rd floor which happens to be filled with century old magazines. It smells faintly dusty, like a library should. Before I write, I pull out several magazines from the era I am writing about to spark my imagination. (The current short piece I am working on takes place in 1953, so I surrounded myself with Ladies Home Journals filled with images of casseroles and gloves). I have not ever bothered to set up the library WiFi access. When it's busy, I am surrounded by studious foreign students on iPods. People shuffle and cough, but as I write, eventually everything around me disappears.

    1. It's difficult to write away from the places that feel most creative, but you're right to try. It's way too easy to tie our creativity to places and things and routines. And all that really does is stifle the creativity.

      That said, I do miss my patio. Being able to sit outside on a rainy, windy day and write is a luxury I sorely miss.

      That's really neat about writing in the library and surrounding yourself with era-appropriate inspiration. With everything so easy to Google, I feel like I've lost touch with the library. It might be time to change that.

      You can actually ignore cats? I'd heard they had secret sense for knowing when their owners needed to work most and choosing that time to sit on the keyboard. :)

  3. I write in two places: my desk at work (shhh), and the kitchen table at home. With two kids, and a three bedroom home, there is no room for an office.

    1. Ha! I can't write at work, but I definitely used to get a lot done there. Editing, revising. Those things are great to do at work. Lately, I've lost my ability to do those things as the demands of the job have grown, but I think taking time out to work on something creative might actually increase productivity.

  4. I'm not too picky about my writing space. It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I'm typing away on my IPhone notepad. Other times scribbling on a notepad in an overcrowded space.
    I prefer to write in my office at home. Or as my wife calls it my man cave. I like having my toys and bizarre items hanging around.
    It helps me to transfer into my writers world. I need music. Loud and preferably very fast. We just placed a desk in the living room. I don't know how that is going to go but my only problem with writing is the being alone part. I hardly ever have time with my family so to lock myself up in solitary is hard for me.
    Hopefully things will go better this way.

    1. The man cave. Love it. My office is like that too. All the strange action figures I've collected over the years, and my Dalek posters. I like to surround myself with whimsy. It helps me be more whimsical!

      I don't have kids, so I don't know how I'd manage. But I make my writing time in the morning because I'm the only one awake. My work is very accommodating, so I usually get up at 6:30am and write until 9 or 9:30am before going to the office. Matt's a late sleeper so the mornings are usually mine.

      Matt Myklusch, who writes the Jack Blank novels became a father around the time of his first book (I think...my dates are all screwy), but I know that he often gets up at crazy times so that he can be awake before his son. It's even more difficult for those of us with day jobs too, but I've found that having limited time forces me to get down to business faster so that I don't waste it.


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