One of the great things about writing is that there’s no wrong way to do it…as long as words are getting logged somewhere. Anywhere. On a laptop, in a notebook, on thick, creamy paper, or in a recording on a cell phone to be transcribed later. But with all these options, we all have our own comfortable patterns we fall into.
Where do you write?
I’m a home office girl. I have visions of being a regular in a hip coffee shop, lattes available for the asking when I’ve sweated through so many words that my brain needs a break. In these visions, a critique partner would be writing by my side and we’d brainstorm a plot bunny over the coffee break.
But writing in Starbucks is not for me. One word: Noise. I need quiet to write. I don’t even listen to music. The only words I want to hear are the ones in my head or on my screen. The only voice – my characters’. Anything else slows me down. I have written in coffee shops, but I save that for when I’m more focused on connecting with writer-friends and getting a little work done. Never when I’m doing the Big Revision.
I have an “office” at home, but I rarely do my best work there. Instead, I am that annoying regular at the coffee shop, taking up a table for hours while nursing a cup of coffee.
I like the noise and bustle of the coffee shop. I love to watch people and imagine their backstories, or better yet, listen to how they talk and interact with their companions. Of course, when I’m really cranking, I put my earbuds in and turn on music, which ends up as white noise as I lose myself in the story. But when I’m stuck for a word or the direction for the next scene, all of that inspiration is right there, just over the brim of my coffee mug.
I think the coffee shop calls to me for a couple of reasons: One, my day job is at home, so when I sit down in my “office” I feel guilty if I’m not working on a paid gig. But more than that, at home, there is always something else that I could be doing: dishes, laundry, cleaning up cat vomit, organizing that one closet or drawer that never seems to stay organized, sweeping the dust bunnies from under the sofa. At my local coffee shops – shout out to Rain or Shine and the Bipartisan Café! – nothing is expected of me except that I write.
Describe your typical writing spot.
I have a desk in the room over the garage. I share my “office” with my kids, so the focused work needs to be done before school gets out and that room gets noisy with video games and homework. My desk is a mess: The Emotional Thesaurus and Story Engineering are always within arm’s reach. There’s a notebook or two with my jotted “do not forgets” for next chapters or revisions, as well as sticky notes with “to do” lists. I also have a Yankee Candle that gets lit when serious writing will be done and a collection of kid art projects.
When I’m not perched on a stool at the local café, I sit in a blue chair in my living room with my beagle curled up asleep behind me. I have a bucket from IKEA that holds my notebooks, and if I lean a little to the left, I can snag a reference book off the bookshelf. I’m more minimalist at the coffee shop, where it’s just me, my laptop, and a notebook and pen.
When you get the big book deal and need to lock yourself away for a month to make the words happen (oh, please let this happen someday!), what would be your dream writing local?
On the Outer Banks of North Carolina, listening to the surf crash into the beach. Of course, that nasty sand would never get into my laptop and gum up the works. And it would be 70 degrees and partly cloudy and not 95 and scorching…I mean, since we’re dreaming.
I’m with Rebecca, only on the opposite coast! A beach house on the Oregon coast, with a view of the surf tumbling onto the sand and summer sun streaming in the picture window would, I’m certain, inspire me to new story heights.
Where do you write? Do you pick your writing spot for creativity? For productivity? What do you think would happen if you tried something new?
We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
REBECCA J. ALLEN writes middle grade and young adult stories that blend mystery and adventure. Her best story ideas come from her two crazy kids. Unlike many writers, Rebecca did not write her first story at age eight…at least not fiction. She wrote for her high school yearbook and edited it her senior year. She also wrote for her college newspaper. But her first fiction course scared the bejeezus out of her! Having overcome her fear of fiction, Rebecca loves see how much trouble she can get her characters into, and sometimes back out of. You can find her blog here. She’s also on Twitter.
RICHELLE MORGAN writes, works, plays and drinks too much coffee in Portland, Oregon, often in the company of her husband and their three spirited children, mischievous beagle and long-suffering cat. When not writing fiction for young adults and children, she pens fundraising letters and other marketing copy for progressive nonprofit organizations. Richelle keeps an occasional blog about nonprofit marketing and communication. She has also written feature articles for The Oregonian, and her short fiction has appeared in Voicecatcher. You can find her on Twitter.