The Best Place to Write

Common Question:  Where do you write?

Recently, an interviewer asked me this question, which set me to thinking about the first time it was posed to me.  The questioner was 10-year-old Rose, a student—believe it or not—in a weekend writing class my husband and I were teaching at CaliforniaStateUniversity,Sacramento.  Her dad, who accompanied her to each class, called one day and said Rose really wanted him to drive her down to see us. Down as in more than 200 miles! I may have disillusioned that poor child for life.  She asked me where I wrote, and I pointed her to the kitchen table.  I did have a computer there, and a printer, though I set them on the ironing board when it was time to eat. Poor little Rose.  All she said was, “Dad, isn’t it time to go?”

If I knew Rose’s phone number, I would invite her to come by and see where I work now.  But she’s probably married, or maybe a staff writer for some prestigious journal.

My point? If you’re a writer, you can write anyplace.  But some set-ups are definitely more conducive to creative genius than others.  Here are my suggestions to make your nook or room or studio the best it can be:

  • Have what you need.  Computer on your desk.  Reference books close by.  Printer connected.  Telephone. Legal pad and pens that write and a wee bit of chocolate to make life worthwhile.
  • Comfy furniture.  You need a good desk with a lamp.  A place for files.  A bookcase.  And—maybe most important—a semi-comfortable chair. Too uncomfortable will drive you away.  Too comfortable will allow for snoozing. Like Goldilocks, it should be just right.
  • Get rid of distractions.  No television.  No games.  No DVD player.  Believe me, if you can waste time, you will.  My big bugaboos are Facebook and online breaking news.
  • A touch of joy. I replaced my heavy drapes with bright colored café curtains so that I can close out the distractions but still get the joyous rays of sunshine.  I like that.  Oh, and my husband does his best to always have a rose on my desk.   
  • Quiet. I keep the volume off on my computer.  I disconnect the phone.  I throw the cat out.  So much better!
  • A nice amount of mess. I like piles of stuff.  You know, a pile of research for the book I’m working on.  A pile of ideas for my blog.  A pile of stuff newspaper clippings just in case I ever need them.  Too clean means you’re putting your efforts in the wrong place.  Too messy is distracting.  Again, the Goldilocks rule:  just right.
  • A door.  A door is a wonderful thing.  Open it when you don’t mind the cats stopping by for a tummy rub.  When you need to yell out, “Honey!  How do you spell disestablishmentarianism?”  Close it when you need to concentrate, or to read your draft out loud.

How about you?  What (does/would) make your writing area great? 

My office minus the four book cases and files.

“A room without books is like a body without soul.”Cicero 



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9 responses to “The Best Place to Write

  1. Ahhh, a wee bit of chocolate, or a handful of trail mx! I’m blessed to have my desk (it’s messy-but just right) facing the window where I see hummingbirds, butterflies, puffy clouds, and the brilliant sun. All inspiration, along with the trail mix!

  2. Yes, yes! And you live in a wonderful place to enjoy all that. Write on!

  3. Ohhh, the rose caught my heart.

  4. Dan is a sweetie, isn’t he?

  5. Jeanette

    Nice office!

    I gave up on keeping the cats out long ago. Tati just sits right outside it, meowing and scratching. That drives me crazier than having her in the room.

    She obviously doesn’t take the sign on my door seriously–“Black Knight Security Services: None Shall Pass” with the Black Knight standing in a threatening pose. (In herited the sign from Christian.)

    No roses on my desk, but I do have a lot of homemade crafts, and a wall covered with posters from the Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and a big picture of Spongebob that Nathan colored with he was about four.

  6. Oh, I forgot to say that I have the cup mat that you made me, Jeanette! That is an indispensible part of my desk decor!

  7. Jeanette

    Thank you so much for letting me know! I loved making that for you and love even more that you are still enjoying it :).
    Love you, precious friend!

  8. Jean

    Loved peeking at your work space…I remember the kitchen table and the desk in the kitchen, too. Actually, that’s where I am now, at my new desk in the new kitchen with some ‘stuff,’ computer, phone on the desk, books above, file & printer drawers next to it all. Now to find my absent muse…she left during the flood and hasn’t peeked back in. I think I need a Kay & Dan refresher course! Love you.

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