Reader Friday: Writing Space

”I am happiest writing in small rooms. They make me feel comfortable and secure. And it took me years to figure out that I need to write in a corner. Like a small animal burrowing into its hole, I shift furniture around, and back myself into a cozy corner, with my back to the wall … and then I can write.”
—Danielle Steel

What is your ideal writing space?

22 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Writing Space

  1. I occasionally wish I could write outside, but that is impractical in Arizona. We have bright sunshine almost every day of the year and the glare would be murder, whether using paper or computer.

    Although I have tried the occasional trip to write at a cafe/coffee-shop/what have you, I have found that distracting & unproductive.

    So I prefer to write at home in my nice cozy space where it’s absolutely quiet. The risk, of course, is being conveniently near other distractions in the house, but oh well. I prefer to be home.

    • BKJ, I live in Phoenix. I used to go to a public park, like North Mountain Park in Phoenix, or another, smaller park on the west side of Phoenix. But that was in the days of portable manual typewriters. I’d take a six-pack of Pepsi, Fritos with a bottle of hot sauce, and I’d write for several hours. For me, glare on typewritten pages was not a problem.

      No more. As you say, the glare off a laptop screen is enough to–well, you know.

      But I really liked writing outside.

  2. JSB, I’ll answer your question, in the hopes one of you dear TKZ contributors or admins extends me the courtesy of answering my now several days old email concerning a perplexingly deleted post of mine. Thanks in advance.

    As far as your question, solitude and music are prime necessities when writing. Any room whose door can be unoffendingly closed and loud music put on serves me well. A nice window view, for the break away time at regular intervals, is a nice extra. As I do all my writing and my reading on the desktop, there’s no need for book- filled shelves. Those are my requirements and thank goodness I’ve managed to meet them all.

    As a side note, I have started reading Elmore Leonard’s 52 pickup. After having just finished up Le Carré’s Constant Gardner, what a breath of fresh air it is, I have to say! The number of times I’ve stared at the Kindle screen and said in sheer admiration “Why, you brilliant son of a gun!” is through the roof.

    The guy is a master and I do have to thank you for, along with McKee, recommending him.

  3. I’m most productive in my home office with my PC and 2 monitors, windows to the outside world (although I can drop the shades if need be). Part of my writing process includes walking around and head writing, so it helps to be home. Kind of hard to leave your stuff and wander at a coffee shop. Plus, I really need the full size keyboard.

  4. I’d like to say Maui or the Amalfi Coast, but I don’t think that’s what you mean.

    Where I write doesn’t seem to matter to me, but instrumental music or ambient noise tracks make me more productive than silence or television or my kids’ chatter.

  5. If you’d asked me this a few months ago, I would’ve replied that I MUST have a noiseless, distraction-free environment so I can concentrate.

    However, the last time my wife and I took a long trip, she drove, and I wrote. Not only were we speeding along on the interstate, my wife had the radio on oldies stations. Despite the distractions, I churned out several good pages. I would never have thought it possible.

  6. My writing space is a 12’x12’ middle room, through which you access the living room, dining room, and small front entry.

    Even though the size is adequate, because of the room’s central location, three wide doorways that can’t be closed off, limited wall space, and lack of natural light, it’s not a good option for anything other than a mail-and-keys drop, or a static tableau (The previous owner decorated it with seasonal centerpieces atop a round table.), so I claimed it. Everything I need fits perfectly: a large desk containing my netbook perched upon a stack of books, separate keyboard, hardbound copies of a dictionary and thesaurus, and a sideboard that holds more reference books and also is a base for our printer. It works out best for writing and editing when I’m home alone, but otherwise, I love it.

    We don’t call it my office or study or writing room, though. A former owner labeled it “Dismal Room,” on the circuit breaker in the basement, so that’s what we call it: The Dismal Room.”

  7. I tend to draft best in bed, with pencil and lined paper. Handwriting seems to connect better with my creativity, and writing with a pencil gives my writing (the physical act, not the words) an artistic feel. I think it just creates the best connection between my imagination and the page. I’ve also drafted on airplanes or in coffee shops or in restaurants while waiting for my companions to arrive.

    I’ve tried drafting on a computer, but it seems to come out… well, less exciting. I’ll type my drafts into the computer, editing as I go. I can edit just fine on the computer. Where the first draft needs to be more creative, the computer connects with my left brain more (I know the right/left brain dichotomy isn’t so exact, but it seems to be the way to speak to creative vs practical.) After typing out the first draft, I’ll usually print it out, then edit it in bed again. After that, most editing is done on the computer in my office.

    (I don’t encourage writing and editing in bed – it’s terrible sleep hygiene, but it’s what works for me, so I do it.)

  8. Maybe I’ve got ADD or something, but I get restless if I’m chained to one desk or writing spot. Since I untethered from the PC years ago, I’ve lugged my laptop from room to room, country to country, cafe to bar. I don’t know why but whenever I feel blocked or the writings going badly, if I change locations, the dam begins to break.

    Right now I’m slumped on the sofa but I will probably head over to my coffee shop soon where the ambient white noise is the hum of FSU students and a good oldies station.

    MC: I am impressed you can write in a moving car! I can’t even write on a plane.

    • Kris, there is actually research on this, that ambient noise such as you would find in a coffee house is conducive to creativity. That’s why when I am writing in my office, I often turn on!

  9. My ideal writing space is also a small room – preferably with only blank walls so I don’t stare out of the window instead of writing! I need silence and solitude to write my best work – so no Starbucks or cafes for me:)

  10. I can write pretty much anyplace. Coffeehouses, busy magazine offices, on a 13-hour flight to Thailand, in perfect solitude. I just zone out.

    I prefer quiet, good coffee, a comfortable chair and few distractions. But that situation is rare in my life. Very productive, though, so I should seek it out more often.

  11. I have a home office with a built-in desk and library. Facing the wall to write drives me nuts, so I move from room to room. One day a week I go to a coffeehouse and hide in a corner. I live in a quiet suburb and when I want to be most productive I check into a nice motel a mile from our house for a few days and write, write, write. I do, of course, stagger down for the free breakfast buffet. Silly, maybe. But, there are no distractions.

  12. I find distractions wherever I go. I have a card table set up between my bed and closet in my bedroom. It is my office. I share an apartment with another lady and our bedrooms are right next to one another. It is a small apartment. She has the TV on most of the time and even with my door shut I can hear it 24/7. I like to go to the library or the park nearby the library. I love to write outside. The problem is, no matter where I am whether it is the park or the library, people always approach me and I’m distracted and speak to them. Writing in a coffee shop is not the thing for me. Too much noise. So, I suppose the best place is in my room.

  13. I have a desk in my garage with a view of a bare brick wall. No distractions, so really helps to focus the mind. (Also have noise-cancelling headphones to filter out the noise of the kids…)

  14. I have a home office with a big Dell tower and use a wooden kitchen table for a desk. I like being surrounded by books on three sides, and many of them are written (and signed) by friends. I have a view of a canal on the Intracoastal. My husband is a feature writer, and he likes an office the size of a closet, with no windows. It makes me claustrophobic, but like the prolific Danille Steele, he prefers a cozy space.

  15. Cigar shop. I have a comfy chair in a dark corner off by myself. When the headphones are on everyone knows to leave me alone. There’s good barbecue a short walk to the north and lousy Mexican food a few doors south. The coffee is free, cigars excellent and I look out at a huge, simplistic painting of Samuel Clemens lighting a stogie.

  16. I call my main writing area “the hole” my office in a finished basement where I have a downstairs view of the patio and the forever wild behind my townhome. I have other favorite spots, but this one is my main domicile for writing. I write in silence. However, I do get some inspiration while driving and listening to two of my favorite CDs -John Forgarty and James Taylor:)

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