Where do you write? What devices or tools do you need at your desk? Here, four writers describe their ideal spaces to write.
Over at Discover, editor Mike Dang asked five bloggers to describe and take photographs of their writing spaces. Read their responses.
When you write, are you typing at your desktop computer in your home office? Drafting a blog post on your phone, right in the WordPress app? Or are you like Deborah, below, creating your desk for the day at your favorite coffee shop?
To write in, I like a cafe with wooden floors, high ceilings, and tables with ample space. Once committed, I make the place my own. I give myself over to a familiar wafting aroma. I order an Americano, no milk, no sugar please. I arrange my piping hot coffee and writing accoutrements on my “desk,” and then I take in the sounds around me. An espresso maker sputters and whirs to an undercurrent of percussion-driven electronic beats and the indiscernible vocalizations of a female singer. Voices murmur, mostly in French, some in English and a spattering of other languages, about travel plans, relationships in crisis, business.
Distractions, yes, but I am not compelled to do anything about them. They become a backdrop, an entryway into an ongoing narrative. I listen to the tap-tapping sounds around me of others engaged in their own interior monologues and I, finally, begin mine.
— “A Café of One’s Own,” Deborah Murray
Online tools to help set the mood:
When we work on our blog posts, some of us prefer to type in silence and solitude, while others may need background noise or interactions with people. And then there are the necessities. A notebook and a pen to jot down ideas? Different-colored Post-its? A pot of coffee?
In one of our Blogging U. Writing 101 courses, we ask participants to describe their current writing space — or to imagine an ideal one. In the past, bloggers have written about their preferred physical environments, devices, tools, and even belongings. But one’s “space to write” goes beyond the tangible: we also need the mental space to tell our stories.
Here, four bloggers reflect on what they need to write.
In “Headspace,” Sandra at What Sandra Thinks describes her former writing space, complete with the perfect desk and chair:
I used to write sitting at a gorgeous 60-year-old mahogany desk, carefully and expertly handcrafted by my late grandfather-in-law. It was nestled in the corner of our spare room. I would type away into the night. A big cozy chair beside the desk gave me a place to write when I wanted to sit back and go old-school with pen and paper.
Then we had children.
The spare room was no longer spare. The old beautiful desk had to be relocated to the corner of the living room. The comfy chair is in my bedroom. I still went to that desk and that chair to write, but it was different. Not bad different or good different. Just different.
At Retro Girl and the Chemo Kid, Kiri honors the memory of her daughter Zoe, who died at the age of six. In one post, she beautifully reflects on finding the space to write:
The physical space I write in is nothing special — usually I just take my laptop into bed or park myself on the sofa, sometimes following the sunny spots around the house like a cat. But the mental space to write in is something else. . . .
I still need plenty of alone time to process my thoughts and feelings, but it’s less through thinking than it is through purposely not thinking. When I can empty my mind by dancing, by gardening, by focusing on physically creating something like prayer flags or button angels.
It’s in those moments, when my mind is empty of conscious thought, that an insight from those connections might percolate to the surface, that my little angel muse will pop up unexpectedly, in a fleeting thought or sudden jolt of memory and I find myself in the space to write. About her, for her, for my own healing, for however my hard won life lessons (or hers) might touch someone else.
In D.B. Hall‘s response, he describes a framed page from a medieval prayer book, the Book of Hours, on his office wall, and how it reminds him that writing takes time and effort:
This single page on the wall serves as a reminder of how precious and intentional writing once was, and the extreme amount of labor and care required to produce just one book (which was likely years). While the tools we have available today allow us to crank out lots of text in a short time, I need a reminder that my writing should demonstrate a thoughtful investment of time, self-discipline, respect for the reader, and reverence for the craft. This wall-hanging is material evidence of a deep abiding respect for what went on the page.
In “Building Castles in the Sky,” Elizabeth Zertuche says that writing by hand, carrying a notebook, and being surrounded by books and other writers all encourage her creative process:
I feel the most comfortable writing with just pen and paper. I find myself doing more self-editing when I write on my laptop because the medium makes the words look more like a finished product. Writing with pen and paper makes my writing feel like a work in progress and more like a draft. Writing by hand I am less concerned with formatting and word count.
How about you? Where do you go to write? What do you need?
For more inspiration, read about other bloggers’ writing spaces on Discover.