Monday, December 5, 2011

Blog Chain: Writing Desk

Apparently this is the last blog chain of the year. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Anyway, this chain's topic was decided on by Tere, who asked us:

What conditions do you need to get your best writing done? Closed door, crowded coffee house? Computer or notebook? Can you just sit down to write, or do you need to wait for the time to be right?

Before you read my response, go visit Sandra, whose link in the chain comes before mine. Tomorrow, you can visit Kate, whose link comes after.

So, now to my answer, if you can call it that.

I've only been writing seriously for a few years, well, depending on what you consider serious. Seeking publication, I suppose. When I first started, I was very uptight about where and when I wrote. I had to have a desktop computer, with two monitors (one for research, one for drafting) and it had to have a big, clicky keyboard. I always did my best writing first thing in the morning, and tended to have more success revising in the afternoon.

Since then, I've come to realize that writing is a lot like time. You can't always find it, so you have to make it. I'm not sure that analogy makes much sense written down like this, but my point is, you're not always going to be able to find the perfect circumstance, so you have to just make do. I've got two kids and a rowdy dog, so writing at home is difficult, but I do it, when I can, because I have to, even though I can't stand writing on a laptop. I also have an annoying, soul-sucking day job, but I get some writing done there as well, even with phones ringing all over the room, managers walking around pretending they matter, and people talking at me all day long.

All that being said, I would kill for a cabin in the mountains, with a window on the world, and a nice old typewriter on a roll top desk. Oh, that, and the time to enjoy it.

Where do you get your best writing done?

45 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I can pretty much write anywhere but I usually do have bigger chunks of quiet in my house when I can write. I use smaller chunks to read, plan out blog posts, things like that. Or even edit a chapter if I'm at home.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry about the soul-sucking day job! Mine's not soul-sucking, but I still have to work around it. I don't need my computer, but I do prefer to remain hidden in my office, jamming to tunes.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I prefer to write on my computer, which is in my bedroom office. And I prefer NO noise, which doesn't usually happen when the kids are home. I'm always having to tell them stop to fighting or having to deal with whatever mini crisis they are facing (they enjoy coming into my room every few minutes to bug me).

salarsenッ said...

Apparently, I've missed your last blog chains. I love this idea. Where do I sign up!

As far as writing, it sounds like you and I are following a similar road. When I first began writing, I was way uptight about the when, how, and quiet of my environment. Now, I tend to take the opportunity to write whenever and wherever it avails me. I do have an office and try to write as much as I can while the kids are at school. But with four of them, I often find appointments and errands eating up that time.

Jen Daiker said...

For me it's all in what I write in. I can write anywhere, stick in my ear buds and take it all in. I plot best when I'm watching television with my hubby and paying more attention to my world-building notebook than anything else. When writing out chapters I find my laptop snug with me on the couch is the perfect fit. Some days I find more inspiration outside but the laziness of the couch is where I'm most creative.

Today is the YA Tournament of Heroines bout - Hermione vs. Claire! Please vote for Hermione!

Old Kitty said...

Infront of my pc at home? LOL!

Aww but to have a cabin in the mountains and all the time in the world...!

Or even a hut on a beach by a calm sea. Sigh!

Take care
x

Creepy Query Girl said...

comfy couch, early morning while still in my pj's:)

Suzie F. said...

That cabin in the mountains sounds perfect!

I can write just about anywhere, but it's difficult at home. Too many distractions and thinking about what I "should be doing." The library is where my best writing is done.

Pat Hatt said...

Cabin in the woods sounds nice. So agree with you can't always find it. It's especailly hard when you got a cat biting at your toes wanting attention...haha...my job isn't quite soul sucking but it does get in the way as well.

Jessica Bell said...

Oh, I'd kill for that cabin in the mountains too! One day, Matt ... on day ...

Em-Musing said...

It could be on Mars...just as long as it's 4:30 A.M. with a cup of brew nearby.

Slamdunk said...

Well said Matthew.

With all the competing responsibilities, I believe one has to be versatile and be productive no matter the circumstances. I would prefer to write wherever early in the morning--wow, I guess I do write early in the morning, but rather staying up to late as opposed to waking up and going at it.

Marta Szemik said...

It's funny I wrote about a similar topic today on my blog. Great minds think alike. All I need to write is time. It doesn't matter where and when - just time. I'd done it at kids swimming lessons, gymnastics, doctor waiting rooms etc. I always struggle to find time, and writing always takes priority over housework which makes the hubby go nuts! :)

Bish Denham said...

It surprises me how my writing ways have changed. I used to be able to write anywhere, under almost any kind of condition. Noise and music and people all around. Now I like it pretty quiet. If the door is closed hubby knows not to bother me.

I'd like a cabin on a beach.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I hand write everything, so I just need a pen and notebook. I learned quickly to write in short spurts of 15 minutes here and there. That works better for fiction, though. When I write non-fiction, I need at least an hour or more.

Lola Sharp said...

I can write anywhere and I love writing on my laptop.

That said, ahhhh the siren song dream of a writing cabin, solitude, and a view. Yes please.

JEM said...

I love the idea of a cabin in the woods, but ever since I heard the plot of that movie "I Spit on Your Grave," I've been terrified of the thought. Although if you've ever seen Laurie Halse Anderson's beautiful writing cottage, it would lure anyone out into the woods.

Michelle H. said...

Kids and work dictates writing time, as does social network. Darn you, FaceBook, as you suck away my time!

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan said...

How neat to have two monitors and use them that way!

I love the idea of a log cabin myself. The next best thing for me is to take a vacation day and send my son to daycare.

Donna K. Weaver said...

I totally agree with the make time philosophy. I use that all the time. If we really want something, we'll find a way to make it happen. Some of it's time management and prioritization. What do you really want the most? Watching that TV show or playing that video game--or writing?

Nancy Thompson said...

In my home office, on my desk top PC, with the TV turned on but the volume low. I write all times of the day, but prefer to be alone, meaning no one in the room with me except for my dogs. I hate writing on my laptop. I always seem to jump to some weird place while typing without even knowing it. And I have to listen to my music before writing as it inspires me, but I can't have it playing while I write.

Carolyn Abiad said...

I write on my dining room table. It's the only room in the house where no one really bothers me. Can't say the chair is too comfy though.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

I thought about writing some this weekend but killed a giant spider in skyrim instead. It was much more fulfilling.

Tere Kirkland said...

Mmm, writing retreat in the mountains. Sounds perfect!

Cynthia said...

Your life sounds like mine. Two boys, pesky dog who always want my attention, day job, house the works. Love to write in the am. (at a reasonable hour that is) and squeeze writing bloggin in during work when and if I can.
We make it work.

Samantha Jean said...

My ideal location would be on the covered porch of my future lake house, but since i can live in my imaginary future, my second favorite place is at my kitchen table. But really I have to write wherever and whenever I can. I have 5 kids, I babysit kids, and I'm surrounded by so much noise, there's really no way to escape ito a quiet alone place. So, I've learned how to block noise out, which helps tremendously, and I bring writing utensils with me everywhere I go. I wear pens in my hair, carry a pocket notebook in my purse, use the Pages program and Dropbox on my iPad, and have even been known to leave messages on the phone with my sudden brainstorm ideas.

Johanna Garth said...

I really love writing in coffee shops. Especially in the winter. We live in Portland and I feel like a coffee shop turns the dreary winter days into something cozy and makes me crazy productive (although, maybe that's just the caffeine).

Lydia Kang said...

I'd love the cabin, but with a few extra amenities. A clean bathroom (no poison ivy toilet paper for me!), and WiFi. And a minifridge, stocked to the gills. And a cashmere blanket. And a little fireplace. And...

farawayeyes said...

Interesting to see what makes other writers tick. I live at the beach so...

D.G. Hudson said...

My place of writing is in the study with my laptop, a lamp, a dictionary & phone nearby. That's where I do my best thinking and writing.

maine character said...

I do my best writing when I'm sitting in the sauna, sipping champagne, and playing footsie with Sandra Bullock.

Actually I don't know that for sure, but it'd be fun to find out.

Bryan Russell said...

Yeah - you gotta make do, or the words will pass you right by.

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Matt, would you believe I DO have a cabin in the Pocono Mountains, and I've never gone up there by myself to write?

However, I love to write there when we go up as a family. I like a quiet, peaceful setting for my writing (although I rarely get it).

I keep promising myself a mountain writing retreat some day soon. Although I kind of wish one of my writing buddies was near enough to go up with me. That would be fun.

M Pax said...

I prefer writing on the desktop. It's faster. But will make do when I have to.

I've gone on writing dates before to places without internet & found that extremely productive.

CherylAnne Ham said...

It's so interesting to see how different we all are on this topic.

Time of day isn't that important to me, but it needs to be quiet. I get so angry when people insist on talking to me during my writing time, whenever I may find it. I can't listen to music or anything. I just need quiet and I'm good. Oh. And coffee. Coffee is a must.

Kristen Pelfrey said...

I need almost absolute quiet to write, but I am working on that. I can write anywhere. I write on my laptop and I write a lot in longhand. I always have a notebook with me.

Carrie said...

An old typewriter and a roll top desk would be awesome. My dream desk is my grandfather's secretary desk. It's pretty much been my dream desk my whole life. I love that desk.

Angela Brown said...

My situation is less a where but when. I can have my laptop anywhere in my apartment and get progress done. However, chipmunk has to be very occupied or asleep for me to get any real progress made.

Joe said...

Anywhere with my laptop but my favorite place is home when no one else is around. It's funny I can write in a crowded coffee shop but I can't write when my family is around watching TV and asking me questiions.

But I don't need much time to get something down. I'm used to having only short periods (I also have a full-time day job) of time like twenty minutes or so at a stretch so I have to get down what I can then revise next time and write some more. I crawl forward this way but forward it is.

Wait. I forgot I went to a writer's colony called Ragdale just outside of Chicago for 2-weeks once and that was incredible. Silence. Someone to feed me. Unlimited tea, coffee, and snacks. Lot's of outdoor space to walk. A fireplace. Ahhhhh.

Donna Hole said...

I'm with you on the "make write time" concept. Having 5 kids (not all little at the same time) I'm a the-more-noise-the-better to block it all out type person. Quiet seems to mean I need to check on something :)

Once I was driving down the Skyway (seriously steep drops on either side) and I heard this moving song on the radio and suddenly this entire story concept just hit me. I pulled over to the Look Out point and wrote on the finer points - plotting I guess - as they came to me.

The quiet was amazing, the view spectactular - though it had nothing to do with the concept.

Nope, never know when the mood will hit and feel just so write :)

.......dhole

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Oooh I am so with you on that mountain cabin... except maybe put my cabin on the beach instead. And no typewriter. In theory a typewriter is so very romantic, but in reality I need my MS Word.

Cold As Heaven said...

I'm getting my best writing on air planes, with nothing else to disturb me >:)

Cold As Heaven

Sarah said...

I'm envious of people who can write on the job (though your job does not sound that fun). On days I work, I cannot do anything else. It's exhausting (but thankfully, not soul-sucking). When I write, do it on my laptop, and never at a desk. In general, I hate tables and desks. I'd rather be in a soft chair (which probably explains why my poor body is falling apart).

This comment contains a lot of parentheses (I don't know why).

TL Conway said...

I wholeheartedly agree about the "writing cabin in the woods" idea. I've gone as far as searching for cheap cabins to buy in the MN woods (time likely better spent writing, I'm sure), but nothing jumped out.

For now, my best writing is done upstairs in my office. There, I can't see either my bed, my couch, my kitchen, or my TV--all distractions. It's just me, my rickety old high school desk, and my "boombox" from the 80s. What else does a girl need?

C D Meetens said...

For writing, I've got used to writing pretty much anywhere - at home, in a cafe, on a train or bus. It's hard to say where is best, as my home has really noisy neighbours (although it's fine when they're not there), and a cafe or train can be distracting if enough conversation goes on.

For revising, it has to be somewhere quiet, as I find I need more concentration.