Whether it's a special desk in a locked office or a noisy coffee house and a pair of noise-canceling headphones, we all have our preferred environments when we sit down to write. But often the difference between our practical workspace and our ideal workspace can be vast. So, this week we turn our attention to our ideal and practical writing environments most conducive to our work.
What is your typical writing environment when working? What do you do to make it as ideal as possible for your output?
Michael Dean Jackson: Lately the only things that seems to get me writing and stay at it until I am finished is a deadline. That, solitude and quiet. No music, no talk. Just as close to silence as I can get.
Davide Mana: I've my PC in a very crowded room that was supposed to be the house library, but it's more like a big book depot right now. I wish I had a more comfy chair, but it's okay.
Eric Wirsing: My typical work environment is a minimalist desk at home with a laptop and tablet with speech to text. I fix myself two beverages at the start of the day -- one glass of iced tea and the other iced coffee.
Tamara Lowery: I've been writing during work breaks and downtime for well over a decade. At home, there are too many legitimate demands for my attention to get any writing or editing done. I have to nearly DEMAND time to work on anything book-related at home. I LOVE having Word on my phone.
Christopher Hobson: I set up my environment to be as much like the setting of the story as possible. Lighting is a major factor. I also have a cork board with pictures for character reference and environments. And finally “my rock,” a small statue or figure that I look to as an anchor.I also have a unique set of skills that allows me to paint and animate clips to help me see what’s in my mind.
Robert McDonald: Typical is sitting on the couch after the kids go to bed or in bed next to my wife.
James Palmer: I need relative quiet. Those folks who write in a Starbucks or a busy coworking space astound me. I get most of my writing done at work on my lunch break, with just a closed door and my laptop.
Angela Hope: I work at my desk, with a real computer (not a laptop), no music, just quiet. Since I am an administrator by trade, my desk is my 100 percent workspace. I think that having a dedicated workspace is key. Since I work with numbers most of the time when not blogging, I tend to not play music, which distracts me. When I am writing for my blog, I consider it work, therefore, my workspace is where I do it. For me, a quiet, controlled space is best.
Sean Taylor: I tend to write in many different environments, from at the local coffee shop to sitting at my kitchen table to my desk in the "office" (it doesn't have walls so it's not really an "office" to me). Sometimes even I'll sit on my couch, but I can't write too long that way because of the way I have to lean over and how that makes my old man back start to hurt.
Michael McIlvain: A quiet place. Preferably with few people around.
David Wright: My typical set up is on the couch with the little recliner section kicked back. I get all settled in with a large lapdesk with plenty of room for my laptop and forearms. I will find my favorite YouTube channels of either low-fi Chill Hop or Lord of the Rings ambient sounds and put in my earbuds. This is just to block out the rest of the world without grabbing my attention. And I'm golden. I use Scrivener and on my best days I've already written out "description summaries" of each scene (written as if I'm describing a part of a movie to a friend). If so, this helps me start producing finished scenes with minimal-to-zero mental ramp up time to figure out what I need to be doing. This scenario is my ideal and when I am at my most productive.
Sean Ellis: I have a usual cafe where I write 5 plus days a week, for 1-2 hours a day. Sometimes it’s problematic because I know a lot of people who go there, but that’s what makes it fun. Headphones on, listening to music and writing.
Larry Young: I can write anywhere but it has to be 100 percent quiet. A mouse farting two houses away will distract me for an hour. I don’t want real people intruding on my made up people; it’s just rude.
B. Clay Moore: My desk in my office, a massive instrumental Spotify mix playing loudly behind me. Preferably alone in the house.
Aaron Rosenberg: I USED to write at my desk, which is in the back corner of our family room in the basement. Fairly quiet, decent setup. But since lockdown last year I've had to work remotely from there and couldn't write in the same spot (needed to get up and move around once the workday was done). Now I write on my laptop in our living room instead. We have recliner couches and the corner by the front wall is mine so I sit there, recline it enough to stretch my legs out in front of me, set the laptop on my lap, and work there. I have noise-canceling headphones for when I need them, and an instrumentals playlist. Works fairly well--I've done four novels there, along with several novellas and a handful of short stories.
Chris Burke: Brainstorming usually happens with a notebook and pen with dated entries. Sometimes fully formed ideas come out of this. Better is sitting at my desktop when the house is quiet where I can type to my heart’s delight. I can also do this during lunch at work with the flash drive hanging around my neck.
John French: I "write" all the time, thinking and planning stories. Sometimes I even remember what I thought about. When I do sit down to put words on the screen (pen to paper no longer applies) it's at a desktop computer in the basement. I'm alone, no music, no TV in the background, just me listening to the voices in my head. I can't write if there's someone in the basement with me.
Alan J. Porter: I have two distinct writing environments. When I’m working on non-fiction I need to be in my office with my reference material and books around me. But no music or background noise. - Conversely, when I’m writing fiction I’m most productive in a public space with background chatter as “white noise.” I do most fiction work when traveling- writing on the plane, or in coffee shops or the quiet corner of a pub or restaurant.
Bobby Nash: I write at the desk in my office surrounded by clutter, comics, books, and collectibles. Is it ideal? Maybe. I don't know.
Ed Erdelac: I write absolutely anywhere whenever I have the time. I've written sprawled on the living room floor as my kids watch Amazing World of Gumball, I've written on my bed, on the apartment stairs, in my van, at my desk on break at work.
Jason Bullock: It has to be at my work desk where I can let my fingers fly across the keyboard. I also will write excerpts of stories, scenes and chapters in small notebooks from the Dollar Tree. I then make notations in the main draft or script on the computer the labeled books or tear out pages to keep in my main draft hardcopy notebook.
I seem to thrive in writing by filling my background with the noise of an all too familiar movie or soundtrack to soothe my subconscious mind. This frees my frontal cortex up to plow the furrows of my story.
Bill Friday: I don’t want to return to my LAST successful writing space. That was a warehouse, on graveyard shift, alone, feeling like a cross between fictional characters (Mark Whatney and Jack Torrance to be exact). I have a new writing space beginning at the beginning of next month, renting a room with wood-paneled walls that make it feel like a chalet… without the forest. We’ll see how it goes.
Joann Maria: I can get a lot done in a quiet corner at the public libray
Gordon Dymowski: My preferred writing space is a section of my living room with laptop and/or pen and paper. I try to reduce the number of distractions: I use the Stay Focusd extension to block social media, I may have soft music in the background, but otherwise my writing environment is relatively stress free. (Another option - the Walker branch of Chicago Public Library, which allows me to have a long, contemplative walk before I sit down and start to write.
What would be your ideal writing environment for getting the most (and best) work done? And I mean really get work done, so no wild parties in Ibiza or men in loin clothes feeding you grapes on an isolated beach, please.
Eric Wirsing: The ideal writing environment is just what I have now -- sufficient food and drink, a space to go for a walk in suburbia, and internet access for research (I'm boring, I know).
Robert McDonald: Ideal would be a home office where I could both have a drink and cigar, play some music, and not be interrupted.
Jason Bullock: My ideal working environment is and will always be lakeside near shoals or waterfalls in a mountain-esque scene. Fresh air, serenity, and the high bombardment of negative ions from the water hitting the rocks and lakes makes the human brain balance in harmony. I know that sounds hokey but it has beem scientifically proven that all atoms vibrate. Since we are a compilation of molecules of atomic nature we too vibrate on that frequency. Our emotions change the amplitude of that frequency whether happy, sad, focused, or diffused. The natural world can be connected by each of us to enhance our mental and physical productivity. Sorry if this answer was a bit verbose.
James Palmer: My ideal space is an office with my bookshelves, artwork and Funko Pops, which is my setup at home.
David Wright: The only way my ideal would be different from my typical set up is if I have no other obligations for the day and no one making demands of me. But even a wholly dedicated writing day requires exercise breaks. I'll go workout or run to not only work out the kinks but also brainstorm or let my subconscious wrestle with a plot issue.
B. Clay Moore: I'd like to build a small office behind the house for maximum isolation. That would be my ideal circumstance. The problem is always interruption. No one understands how completely derailing even the smallest interruption can be.
Aaron Rosenberg: I'd be happy to switch back to my desk, with my Aeron chair and dual monitors and proper mouse. What would be nice, though, is to be upstairs with it, where I can have a window open on nice days and get air and sunlight and a breeze. Ideally in the back of the house, so as not to get distracted by passing cars, neighbors, mailmen, etc.
Chris Burke: I don’t know what would make it better. I use the Internet more than it distracts me so I wouldn’t want to be someplace away from it..
Bobby Nash: I love writing outside on my back porch. I have a swing and take a table out there. The downside of this is that I live in Georgia so it's either too blasted hot and humid outside (like today) or too cold. I take advantage of that week of Spring we get though.
Ed Erdelac: My ideal place is anywhere quiet. I miss my apartment in Chicago when I lived basically alone and could sit at a desk, but I write wherever I have to.
Gordon Dymowski: Ideally, I would love to have my own private writing office close to home. Home often brings several distractions (caring for a sick mom doesn't help), but I don't want to invest huge amounts of time commuting to a coworking space. Give me a small room with a desk, working Wi-Fi, and a coffee pot, and I'll be good to go.
Sean Taylor: I have two ideals. One is at my MeMe's house in South Georgia. It has not internet, and I simply set up in the front bedroom or on the front porch and write and watch the cars drive by. The other is a home office set up. In that ideal home office, it would have walls and be big enough for me to have my library in it too, along with my music equipment for recording and my record player.