Where do you write?


Joe’s Post #22 — So is where you write important at all? Do you have a room set up? A desk? A dungeon?

Do you love to write in a coffee shop? While traveling? In a coffee shop in a dungeon while traveling?

Much to my surprise, I  found that if I have a space set up at home, a place far away from distractions like TV or cleaning or TV or gaming or TV or reading, I can get quite a lot of writing done. So, for me, yes, a dedicated space certainly helps. At least for my novels.

But interestingly enough, word-wise, when I’m on vacation, I write up a storm. Last year, in Vegas, in two weeks, I rewrote 500 pages and posted 3 blogs a day. That’s pretty serious writing. It helped that I had a dedicated space in Vegas, but the truth is, I think the farther away I am from my life and distractions, the more writing I get done.

At home, even with a dedicated space, I find it way too easy to get pulled away from writing. Unlike when I’m traveling, I have to cook for myself. Shop. Take the dog for a walk. Make my bed. Vacuum. Stare at a stack of boxes I’ve yet to unpack.

But it’s more than that. When I’m away from home, it’s like I become a different Joe. Not assless-chaps-and-a-Harley-Joe, but writing can fill my life more completely. It’s easy and so much fun to blog about all the new experiences or new adventures I’m having. (I mean, hey, what would you rather read about, an encounter with a serial killer or how I cleaned the lint out of the dryer?)

And novel-wise, I found it so exciting to be visiting the place where my story was set. As many of you have probably found out, when you’re traveling, your senses are on high alert so if you ever need inspiration, all you need to do is walk out the door and look Lyon - dinner at La Francottearound. Feel how hot a stone can get in 120 degree heat. Smell the salty decay of the Salton Sea. Hear how thunder booms in a valley.

It’s not that you can’t find those experiences closer to home but, at least for me, a change of scenery inspires me to write like a mad man, like there was no such thing as writer’s block, like I was possessed by the spirit of Stephen King.

In the end, away from home, at home, in a fine restaurant in Lyon or a desk in the attic, on a beach on Maui or in front of the TV, what matters is that you find a way to write.

Queries Sent: 0 (took the week off)

Things I learned – if you go looking for dungeon pictures you find some pretty disturbing stuff.

Times I thought my last novel was awesome: 22

Times I thought my last novel was crap, complete and utter crap: 21

8 thoughts on “Where do you write?

  1. Hi Joe,
    Where do I write? I write in my head. Sitting waiting for a bus, on the ferry, walking the dog, in the shower even. And then, when I get down to sitting at the keyboard, the flowing words and metaphors that I had so cleverly penned in my head fail to retain their glittering potential. What I thought sounded magical, mystical, inspirational when fluttering around inside my brain, frequently disappoints once it has been re-formed and re-routed down through the neck, via my arms into my fingers, and finally onto the glaring blue/white of the newly opened and expectant word document.
    I have a strange relationship with my word document.
    I imagine it staring back at me, empty, mocking, yet seductive, happily accepting the dark font as I type it. But all the while, just behind the screen, it is grinning, in the knowledge that very soon I will once again hit that delete button and return it back to its former enticing blankness.
    Perhaps the two of us should agree to a trial separation whilst I revert to pen and paper for a while?
    best regards

    • Wow, Louise — you’ve been reading my mail. Maybe you struggle to get the right words on paper, but your blog comment is wildly articulate, entertaining and insightful. Love it! You better get on with your story about your darling girl with the lovely little case — sorry can’t remember her name.

  2. Great musings, Joe. I do have a favorite place (away from the TV like you), but the reality is, I write everywhere. I mean that. When not actually typing words, I write virtually, i.e. in my head. Whether in bed, or walking, or while I’m chopping onions, even sitting on the toilet (a great place for planning plot options). I am sure I’m not alone in these habits. Writers really do ‘write’ 24/7.

  3. My desk in my office, walking (by the way, thanks to Silk for a blog idea related to the writing “mood” conversation we had – got the idea while I was walking and thinking about the conversation. The post will be going up in March), in a coffee shop waiting for a client, at the kitchen table, in a particular armchair in a living room in a cabin by the Pacific Ocean in Rockaway Beach Oregon (one of my favourite places to write), in the “library” of a cruise ship, facing the Queen Charlotte Islands, in the stateroom of the same cruise ship, where I finished the rough draft to Tuya. Things in common: they’re all “away”. Either physically, in the case of Rockaway and the Cruise ship, or mentally – as in my desk and walking and the coffee shop. Helga’s right – we do write, all the time, but those are the places where most of the writing, both in the head and on the page, take place for me.

  4. Where do I write? Let me count the ways. First of all, I am a ‘laptop writer’, which means I compose best when my keyboard and I are in an intimate relationship. I’ve never gotten the hang of sitting at a desk, staring at a box. Reminds me too much of my life in my big law firm, the hated desktop box screen glowing in the dark as the afternoon hours seeped away, night fell and I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be leaving, anytime soon. Not with 30 page of argument yet to polish. So, for better or worse (cover your ears Karalee) my most prolific writing is done lying on the bed, propped up on pillows, neck extended at an uncomfortable angle. There I can truly write, lost in the lives of my characters, witty dialogue lines popping into my head.

    My other favourite place to write, like you, is while on holiday, although I have to admit not during the actual ‘holiday’ part itself but rather in the airport departure lounges and on airplanes. I love writing on airplanes (as long as my laptop battery lasts). But I love what Bev says about the cruise ship writing. Maybe the 5writers should get some screaming last minute deal on an early season Alaska cruise and brainstorm and critique by day and write like demons at night. We could have a rule, no one gets off the ship until the final draft is done!

  5. You got a great discussion going here Joe!

    For me, place isn’t as important as lack of distractions — or at least lack of distractions I can’t dismiss. That’s a tricky thing. I can concentrate with pure devotion on writing while the TV is blaring in the background, if it’s ignorable (most is). But the first line of dialogue on ‘The Good Wife’ will cause me to leap from my keyboard in the middle of a sentence.

    Most of my distractions, I admit, are in my own head. Things that should be done. Things that provoke guilt when neglected. Things that gnaw or rankle. Worry or anxiety of any kind is the worst distraction. It’s a concentration-blocker.

    From that perspective, it’s easy to understand why writing away from home, especially on holiday, is often so productive. It’s funny how I hesitate to tell people I’m going on holiday when I don’t work at a job anymore. What do I need to take a vacation from? I’ll tell you what: piddly, picky, pedestrian chores. It’s only when I’m away from home that I feel free of responsibility for them (especially the ones that never actually get done, alphabetizing my underwear drawer for example).

    I actually like working at my desk. But it’s a pretty nice setting. However I do remember once when I stayed over at Paula’s an extra night to avoid the long trip home in a snowstorm. Paula and John went out to a party and I stayed home and churned out one of my best (and longest) chapters in my first book at her kitchen island as the snow fell.

    Serendipitous enforced writing, accompanied by dogs.

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