Thursday, January 28, 2016

Where to Write?

Author of Free to Be Fabulous 

by Debbie Hardy

I wrote my first book sitting at my desk. And I haven’t written there since.
After decades of working in an office, pushing paper at a desk, it only seemed natural for me to continue doing just that. So I typed away on my keyboard, researched online, and spewed facts for Stepping Through Cancer: A Guide for the Journey.

It worked okay, I guess. That book is a reference for cancer patients and caregivers, and shows what to expect and how to deal with it. Other than the subject matter and talking about grief over my husband’s death, it was easy to write objectively.
 Then came other types of writing, mostly involving emotions and memories. For some reason, I couldn’t produce sitting in the same position as I had to negotiate contracts and calculate discounts for customers. I needed a new place to write.

Sometimes, a desk will work. Maybe. Hmmm.
Some folks write at the kitchen table. One friend gets a cup of tea and lights a candle to signal the start of her writing session. So I moved my laptop to the kitchen, but the keyboard was too high. I tried the countertop and the island, with the same results. And I was constantly drawn to the refrigerator instead of my manuscript.

My agent likes to write in a coffee shop, so I followed his example. But the distractions of people coming and going, the enticing smells created by the baristas, and the feeling that people were waiting for my table made me feel rushed and uninspired. It cost me $5 for a cup of cappuccino every time, added unneeded calories to my diet, and kept me from accomplishing much.
Another friend goes to the library for quiet, uninterrupted time. Stephen King, in his book On Writing, says that he sits with his feet propped up, writes longhand on a yellow legal pad, and lets someone else do the typing. Neither of those worked for me.
One day, I wanted to check my email, read Facebook, and see people on the TV screen so I wouldn’t feel lonely, all at the same time. I sat on the couch, propped my feet up, and opened my laptop. And the words flowed out! So that’s where I am now, writing to you. This won’t work for everyone. Some of my writer friends can’t accomplish anything on the couch except watch TV or sleep. 
Caffeine can cause creativity!
Sometimes I need to change things up to write other than books. When composing the Prayer Line for my church, I sit at my kitchen counter. Writing workshops take shape while on the couch, but not reclining. And thank-you notes can flow anywhere, just not often.

The location itself isn’t important. What gets your juices flowing is. The secret is to find what works and stick with it.

And sometimes you may need a cup of tea or a TV set to get the muse rolling. Try different places until you find the one that works for you. Then, keep at it!

Images courtesy of imagerymajestic and Ohmega1982 at


David Sharp said...

Wherever it is, that sacred writing space is so important, isn't it? I have the hardest time staying on task at home. I'm glad computers are so mobile anymore. It really helps to take it on the road.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I write at a desktop in my little office upstairs most of the time, but have lately thought taking my laptop to the library would eliminate some of the distractions (and kitchen temptations). Of course, I would have to get cleaned up and wear presentable clothes....

Deborah Nielsen said...

My laptop has its own little rolling table that's parked in front of my wingback in the living room. I have my internet connection (which can be a distraction in and of itself), a huge picture window (for inspiration and/or distraction) and the TV (ditto). Oftentimes I have a small dog smooshed on either side of me and a third sprawled out on the floor. It's my favorite place to write from.

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