Where do you like to write your stories?
Each of us has certain preferences for what feels comfortable and allows the creative juices to flow. Some of us don’t care one whit where we’re writing, as long as we have the tools to write. Do you need to have everything ‘just so’ before you can crank out verbiage, or does your inspiration overwhelm you so you’ll write an entire chapter on your smartphone while ‘doing your business?’
Can you work in the back of a metro bus? Do you have to take a vacation to a secluded chalet in the mountains? Are the kids running all around you while you strive to concentrate, sitting at the kitchen table? Do you have to sequester yourself in a bank vault for privacy and quietude?
What time of day suits you best, and when do you find yourself reaching maximum output? Are you a ‘pantser,’ who only needs an idea and the tools to write? Are you a ‘planner,’ who Absolutely MUST have everything organized, outlined, and have multiple methods of saving your work before one sentence breathes life in your tale? Or are you an interesting mix of the two, a ‘plantser?’
What are your favorite media to capture the events and characters of your story? Electronic or paper? Large canvass format containing “eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was †,” or small restaurant napkin format with wee tiny little writing and hand-scrawled sketches to make sense of it all?
C’mon, share it. I’m sure we’ll see commonalities and unique differences. Doesn’t matter whether you consider it mundane or eclectic. Sharing how YOU do it may prompt someone else to give it a try, because they’d not yet considered it. That’s how we help each other as Writers, as Authors, as Artists; we disseminate a wealth of information, and someone else finds a gem therein. See how you just contributed to the continuation of the Craft? Thank you for participating!
Here are a couple of insights from my world:
Coffee shops have featured peripherally in “places to write.” I’ve used a laptop there, as well as while sitting up in bed, catching up details of a story while my wife read a novel beside me. The passenger seat of a car, while trying to jockey the laptop so the sun doesn’t wash out the display, also makes the list. Sneaking some time during breaks and lunchtime at work is always a clandestine thrill, saving new scenes to the growing tale on a thumb drive. I’ve even used my smartphone, with writing apps, to capture sections of continuing narrative, though doing so makes me feel like I’m “all thumbs” in my writing. I’ve even used a voice recorder that downloads directly to a text document, via Dragon NaturallySpeaking, so the composition occurred on-the-go, walking, sitting on a park bench, or while preparing for the day in my bathroom.
Still, my favorite place is sitting at a desk with the laptop, listening to ambient background music in Shuffle mode. Different tunes evoke different moods and, quite frequently, a particular piece of music will simply “nail” the tone of the section of story in progress. I’ve had several different locations for the desk, in a number of houses as we’ve moved around. Now that we’ve put down roots and have built our retirement home, the desk has gone from bedroom to “man cave” to bedroom to “man cave” again.
The room is at the front of the house, with a single curtained window looking down along the doublewide driveway leading out to the street and overlooking the undeveloped lots across from our home. The interior walls and ceiling were painted by my daughters and my wife, the floor is acid etched and stained black cement, no carpet because we use radiant floor heating. Upon the walls hang a plethora of family photos, as well as tin-types and caricatures. There’s a chaise lounge below the window, a lamp stand, then the desk with the laptop.
The desk is unadorned now, though National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) normally finds it festooned with all manner of motivational quotes and iconic images of success. There’s room for a handful of books (and the growing number of those I’ve published), though I typically keep the desk surface uncluttered, so as not to distract. The only time there’s disarray is during those odd moments of deeper research, or when drinks and snacks come aboard to carry me through to the next treasure trove. I can’t abide the clutter, so they get whisked away when they’ve served their purpose.
I mentioned time of day for the most creative spurts we seem to experience. For me, it’s late in the evening, sometimes into the early morning hours if I don’t have w@rk the next day. It’s as if all the ideas I’ve had bustling back-and-forth in my head finally have an opportunity to sit down and talk with me. They often speak to me in their odd accents and dialects; they share a laugh or let me know why they’ve cried; they open up about their motivations; they share more of their inner flaws and deep-seated ideals; they mention other options for courses of action. We plot and plan together, then they entrust me with recording accurately what they’ve shared. It’s a good collaboration, though it’s oft-times taxing because of the strange hours. Regardless, we get on well and we smile when the vignettes of their lives are finally fashioned into a cohesive exciting whole–a tale to tell for many years to come.
There, that’s a view into one man’s world. Let’s hear from the rest of you who are milling about the room…
† Portion of lyrics from Arlo Guthrie’s song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree”