Sunday, May 15, 2011

Where Do You Write?

James Scott Bell

Here is a picture of the noted screenwriter and novelist, Dalton Trumbo. He's in a nice bath, his pad and coffee at the ready. He looks like he's enjoying the whole writer thing.


Not sure I'd like to write in the tub. I split my time between my home office and my branch offices all over the world, the ones with the round green sign.

Here is the table at my local Starbucks, where I wrote several books. 


I loved that table. But they recently remodeled the store, and my table is gone. The new tables are a tad smaller and the chairs have lower backs, not nearly as comfortable. No one got my permission to do this, by the way.

So I got to thinking, if I could design my perfect writing environment, what would it look like? I think I know. It would be at Dean Koontz's house, in the guest room upstairs, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Dean would be kind enough to let me use it whenever I wanted to.


Then again, would that be too distracting? Would I spend more time gazing than writing? Maybe my home office, with the blinds closed and the familiar mess surrounding me, is still the better idea.

So where do you write?

If you could design your ideal writing spot, what would it look like?

41 comments:

  1. You've been to Dean Koontz's house? I'm so jealous! Hmmm, I do a lot of longhand writing during naptime at my daycare center. At home, it's pretty much wherever I feel comfortable-on my daybed in my office is the best place, though.

    I'd like to write in a castle! But, there again, it may be too distracting.

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  2. Love the tub picture!
    Thanks for sharing ur Starbucks view. I love seeing all the different places writers write at.
    I currently (but not permanently) write at the kitchen table. Not by choice.
    But I secretly am designing my future office and can't wait til it all comes true;)

    Office and Dean's. Wouldn't that be nice!

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  3. My favorite places to write are now off-limits to me, since I no longer have a laptop. =( If I get another laptop someday down the road, asides from my desk top, I'll probably go back to my favorite cafe and camp out on their couches while writing.

    And truth be told, I don't write in the bathtub. The bathtub is for reading!

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  4. Alas, TWC, I have only seen the house on TV. But that was enough.

    Martha, many a fine book has been written at a kitchen table.

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  5. Eleni, what about an old fashioned notebook and pen? I also recommend the AlphaSmart. I've been using mine a lot lately.

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  6. On the corner of my couch, usually wrapped up in my fleece blanket. Though I do enjoy an occasional write-in at one of the excellent local coffee shops, of which Bellingham, WA has many.

    Words Crafter, I've never written in a castle, but I did write in the back of a couple of fantastic old churches in Italy. As long as I'd done my touring and praying, I could write without too much distraction--although little bits of Rome did make it into my high fantasy novel. :)

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  7. Where: Mostly holed up in my apartment, occasionally at Chick-Fil-A, and when I can during breaks at work.

    If I Could Choose: In addition to Chick-Fil-A, I would be writing from my two homes--the cabin in the woods in the summertime overlooking my corral of horses, and in my low desert digs in winter, overlooking my corral of horses and the Superstition Mountains beyond. *-)

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  8. When I was working a day job I traveled a lot so I wrote on planes, in airports and in hotels. On office days I wrote in my car when I took lunch, over looking the Long Island Sound.

    David DeLee

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  9. Jim, most of my writing is done in my home office on my desktop PC. I also have a laptop, and because I use Dropbox and store all my writing in the "cloud", I can take the laptop anywhere there's WiFi, log into Dropbox and continue working.

    Ideal writing spot: anywhere in Tahiti.

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  10. The idea of writing in public situations makes my skin crawl. People would laugh at the sight of me writing in my boxers and T-shirt.

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  11. At the desk in my home office, which makes McDonald Bookstore in San Francisco look organized.

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  12. In my home office, surrounded by clutter and an army of post-its. But off to the side is a window that looks over back yard with trees and a host of squirrels that love to stare at me while I write.

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  13. These comments raise a tangential question: If you have an office, is it of the cluttered variety? Mine certainly is. Every six months or so I make it look as neat and clean and awesome as Gordon Gekko's penthouse lair. But it's only a matter of a week or so when the Kudzu starts coming back in full force.

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  14. I write in a small spare bedroom I've converted to an office. it sits on the second floor at the back of my townhouse, and overlooks my 16x30 "yard." (Or the Grounds of my Estate, as I sometimes call it.) There's a small wooded area behind the yard that I look into, and it gives the impression of writing in a cabin in the woods. For a country boy who's found himself living closer to big cities than he would have chosen freely, it's a refuge.

    If I was designing my perfect writing place, it would be this. I love writing here.

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  15. I'm so glad to see that you've written a lot of books at your local Starbucks! For me, it's a Coffee Bean - they have a Time Out corner that's big enough for 1 chair and 1 table, and there's an outlet right around the corner. I've written at least three books there. Tomorrow I will get my picture taken there and post it on my blog.

    My home office is squeezed into the laundry room. I use the desk my dad first used to write on, and it's a mess...books everywhere and a flood of papers. I flee the office and go to Coffee Bean because it's clutter-free...I never seem to have the time to clean up my office.

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  16. I have an actual studio in a converted feed shed, but I usually write while seated on the couch with my feet on the coffee table. The truth is, I couldn't write in a Starbucks because I would feel like a performance artist. For me, writing is a private affair.

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  17. I have two writing spots. The first is at home. My husband and I have a tiny studio loft downtown, so there isn't any room for an actual desk set up. However, our dinning chairs are supper plush and bouncy, and it puts me just a few steps away from the coffeepot/tea kettle. I also have a nice view out the picture window on to the streets below for when I need to stare off and let my mind mull things over.

    My second writing local takes money, unfortunately, much like Sbux does for you. It's a local coffee/tea/bookshop that's just a block and a half from our loft. It's in an old building, decorated with modern art and bicycle parts, has comfy couches and giant steins of locally made tea for only $2. Whenever I'm having trouble getting into my writing groove at home, I just pop over there, order up a genmaicha and settle down with my lappy for a couple of hours. Works like a charm every time. :)

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  18. Like JRM I can't write in public places. Too many distractions. Likewise with scenery. I live in a beautifully scenic spot (Anchorage Alaska) and when I look at the scenery I end up spending my time looking at the scenery.

    I write in my comfy wingback recliner at home. Lights off, soft jazz or techno music in the background. During the day, I write at my office between customers and on breaks. Lately I find myself writing in my recording studio (aka walk-in closet with a shelf desk on one side). Less distraction is better.

    I especially find it difficult when my excessively attractive wife is in the room.

    It's a wonder we only have three kids.

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  19. I would choose to write at my luxury suite at Citi Field. It's a nice place and as bad as the Mets are, there's nothing worth watching there to distract me.

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  20. I don't think there's an ideal writing spot geographically. The ideal spot is the point you reach in your mind where you are no longer aware of what's around you and the words just bleed onto the page.

    But having said all that artsy stuff, I did much of the last Nanowrimo in a gelato shop that had awesome blood-orange smoothies.

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  21. I love the tub picture!

    I work in a very cluttered home office, surrounded by photographs and artifacts to do with the time period and subject of my current historical work in progress.

    I cue the Pandora radio classical music mix, sit down with my coffee, and fall through time to the 1930s.

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  22. Mostly, I write at the kitchen table. It's at the center of my house so I can keep an eye on my daughter. My whole setup tears down and fits into a little bag. Now that the weather has gotten nicer, I've been writing at a picnic table beside my church's playground. Again, somewhere where I can keep my eye on my daughter. But there's also a coffee shop and a Buffalo Wild Wings in town, and I can get a lot done there as well.

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  23. Jim,
    I have a great office at home, but wow, my desk always seems cluttered. Hubby claims I'm OCD - LOL - but desk always seems to clutter, no matter how many times I clean it. Isn't that the sign of a creative mind?

    I would really love to have more windows and great view, but instead of inspiring, it would probably distract.

    Kayla and I wrote No Safe Haven in 21 days sitting on the couches in our theater room throwing jump drives back and forth. Must admit, it was way more comfortable :) - but for editing had to be back at the desk with dual screens.

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  24. I love to write at the nearby Barnes & Noble near there cafe (was supposed to go there today), my local library after I walk a mile or two at the nearby park or at home in my office where I can take 10-15 minute exercise breaks in between scenes (learned scene writing in Plot & Structure :)

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  25. James Scott Bell, my handwriting has descended into something even I have a hard time reading, now! I prefer typing, my handwriting is so bad!

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  26. The universe is my writing space!!

    ...but mostly I write at home.

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  27. I usually write at the dining table because it's next to the kitchen. I'm a cookbok writer, so I need to be near my subjects :). This means that my end of the table is covered with papers and books that I have to smoosh around in order to eat. My family is quite understanding, although I'm sure it drives them crazy.

    When I'm done recipe testing, I'm up in my office area. I have a desk that is cluttered with paper, files, and notebooks. And a card table next to it covered with research. I have a pitcher of water and a glass. This way I don't have to run up and down the stairs. I have a window out of which I can see mountains in the distance if I squint real hard.

    My ideal writing space: outside, in the middle of a lovely garden, on a beautiful desk. It would be sunny all the time, but my laptop would be still (magically) readable.

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  28. I write whenever and wherever I can; work, the bathroom at work, at home in the kitchen while making dinner, the couch, the bedroom, the patio, the spare room downstairs; I have an office on our three season porch, but by the time I get it organized it is June, then I spend a majority of July looking for all the notes I 'organized' but cannot find. By September I am moving back to the rest of the house, and in October I am looking for all my notes from the summer. May sound disorganized, but with four teenage daughters, we do what we can!

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  29. Hah hah--I've done some of my best work in the tub (longhand). It's the only place I can be really and truly left alone. Sometimes I tell my family that my back hurts and I need to soak in the tub. Then I close the door, get my soak on and write a few thousand words. I used to have a lovely but very cluttered writing desk that I never used. Then I had a kid and moved into a new house. It's not big enough for me to have an office right now but even if I did, I'd never use it. I write wherever I am that I can squeeze out a few words. I've been known to write in the post office while waiting in line. I keep a pen and notebook in my purse at all times. I write in my car a lot and lately, I've been writing sitting next to my daughter in bed while she watches a movie before she goes to sleep. I do however, fantasize about having a writing room one day. I'm actually heartened to see that many commenters don't write in a perfect, beautiful office but where they can or where they must.

    (And Basil Sands, you make me laugh!)

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  30. I had a great table at a coffee shop in Seal Beach. Unfortunately, the coffee shop became a Vietnamese restaurant and I lost that great table. Have not found a place yet with as comfortable a chair or atmosphere.

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  31. I write on my family's dining table between two sets of windows and however much clutter has accumulated since my last sweep. When the noise level reaches critical mass I retreat upstairs and work at my desk. Still, I have notepads scattered about the house I will always have a place to put my thoughts.

    I love to work outside amidst nature, so my ideal writing spot, I think, would be a cabin on a lake with snowy mountains in the distance.

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  32. I write at coffee shops mostly but it sucks when they play loud music. Does that bug anyone else?

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  34. That depends on exactly where I am in the process. I outline longhand in a notebook while sitting in a big leather chair in front of the TV. The major writing is done on a desktop PC in my home office at a large, cluttered desk. But I can look out a huge window onto a beautiful wetland with huge swaying trees. Occasionally I do the Starbucks thing, but often it's difficult to find a seat near an outlet. Proof reads are done at the kitchen island counter while on my laptop. But my best & most creative writing moments seem to come to me while I sleep so I often wake up & grab my iPhone off the nightstand & jot down notes & thoughts in the middle of the night.

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  35. I write in the cave I've built for myself. The basement of my Log Cabin in front of two windows overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.
    My husband and I are in the process of finishing that basement, but you know what - I kind of like it the way it is. Not too pretentious, yet - the perfect place to let my characters run.
    I have the same clutter all the other commenters have mentioned surrounding me (nice to be in such good company).
    It's rather comforting. I know just where everything is.
    My perfect writing spot would be the place I never have to leave for my day job - I think my Basement Cave would do just fine...surrounded by my characters, watching them run...
    Paula

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  36. I live in the woods outside of Portland, OR and when not gazing at my monitor, I stare out the floor-to-ceiling windows to my right. I watch through that glass as the Doug fir trees grow and the small woodland animals forage for their goodies through the forest that is my back yard. It's a great way to clear your mind if you get stuck trying for a particular word which will not come. I'm a lucky guy. (You've not heard of me yet but hopefully the day will come...)

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  37. I usually write at my dining room table that used to be a desk and is still a desk when it's not being used as dining room table...make sense?
    All I know is I have to be undisturbed, listening to music and working with the lights off...or with just natural light. This comment may have revealed hidden issues...thanks..;)-

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  38. Right now, I'm writing at my son's, in the dining room next to the buns. At home, I write beside the pool, or with my office writing tools. Then, I've written on a plane. Other times, on a train. In the summer I write on a boat, or at the beach beside a float. At a conference I write in a bar, or in the front seat of a car. But, the best place I write is in my head just before I go to bed.
    The end.

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  39. I do almost all my writing in our living room, sitting in my recliner with my feet up and my laptop on my lap. I have knee, back, and ankle issues that make it imperative for me to keep my feet up as much as possible. The big drawback of course is that the other six members of my household are constantly swirling around me and wanting me to acknowledge their existence, and I'm living in another world.

    My ideal writing space? A small cottage in northwest Zambia, a good three hundred miles from the closest sizeable town. Preferably the cottage would be overlooking the Zambezi River and there would be electricity for my computer but not for lighting or cooking.And there would most definitely be no TV.

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  40. I know what you mean about the old wood chairs at Starbucks- I miss those!

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  41. My favorite place to write is the guest bedroom, door shut, at night. Candles and movie soundtracks. I work better in the semi-dark. Keeps me focused.

    I probably could write in the bathtub...if I had the proper set up. Might always feel the urge to keep the setting near the water though.

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