Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Write Environment

How important is your writing environment? Are you someone who has to have the things on their desk just so, and everything exactly how it was last time? Do you need music? Absolute quiet? Crowds of people to ogle? Complete solitude?

I read a lot about people's optimum conditions (and if you can't tell by now, I read a lot about writing habits in general, lol). A lot of people I read about write fiendishly when the moment hits. If the muse is talking, all they need is a piece of paper and a pen, or lipstick and tissues, or a marker and the nearest arm.

I'm the same way at a certain point, but not always. When I am first brainstorming a story, or right after a dream, I get flooded with all these ideas, normally about a different wip than the one I'm working on. I will run (okay, yes, literally) to my brain book (or to a sheet of paper if the book is absent), and I will write furiously until everything is on the paper. It may or may not be like an exorcism. Probably not like one at all, but it sounds more mysterious if I leave that as a possibility.

But when I'm writing, really writing, I do like to have some things a certain way. I like quiet, absolute quiet, or close to it. I have to be somewhere that's not my room.

Being outside of my room is important, apparently, and I've just come to this realization recently. I spend a lot of time here, and when I write, it's bloggy writing, or academic even. It's not creative, and I don't know why, but that's typically how I think it'll stay.

When I write at home, I write on the off-limits couch. The couch that one has for purely decorative purposes. It's in front of windows, not that I really look outside much during, but I think the unfamiliarity of the couch is the equivalent of me being at the library, the main place I've been writing lately.

I wrote all of Glittering Ashes (The Dark Artist Series), with the exception of a few library trips, on that couch.

But, other than quiet and not being in my room, I'm not that picky. But, I want to know if you are. What do you need to finally get the words down? Anything specific? Or, are you one of the lucky, wherever I feel like it, scribblers? Let me know below.

Now to leave you with a song to write by, "Singing Brigdes (We All Fall)" by Matchbook Romance. (They're Voices CD, handcrafted addictive genius. I <3 it.)

Favorite lines, if you're curious " I tried to sell you a heart before you saw the world" and 
"I will sing a melody until the fluid starts choking me
And when my eyes are paralyzed I'll stare up at you my star
That I could never reach"

P.S.  I just found this link on the writing habits of great writers, most of which I'm unfamiliar with, but cool nonetheless. Thanks @elizabethscraig


  1. I get inspired on a train, in the shower, out walking. I feel less creative stuck at a desk :O)

  2. Madeleine: Me too. Especially the desk in my room. It's a business desk, not a creative conduit, lol.

  3. I create a playlist for each project and I listen to it while writing. I don't mind if the kids are around, as long as I have my earbuds jamming away in my ears, I'm good!

  4. I can write pretty much anywhere. I prefer quite and a comfortable place to sit.

    I am most inspired when it is raining.

  5. I need to write at home, but I can write in any room or space. As long as I'm home, I'm good to go!

  6. Kris Yankee: I wish I could listen to music and write. Obviously I <3 it, but it's too distracting for me.

    Krista: I LOVE the sound of rain. That I could write to

    Laura Marcella: Sweet, glad you don't have to leave the house :)

  7. I really like quiet. But if I'm on a run, I can tune it all out. My most productive moments are when I'm with pen and paper in bed, or the passenger on a long drive . . . but quiet is the optimum for sure. :)

    And thanks for stopping by my blog and following. Nice to meet you!

  8. Everyone is different, but it seems to me that many writers are superstitious about certain things working only if things are a specific way or at a specific time. All I know is I am attached to my laptop!

  9. For me, it depends. When I'm at the library or sitting outside, I love being it quiet, or just a small amount of background noise like the birds singing. When I'm at home, I can't focus without music. I have a playlist on grooveshark that really helps me focus (but my sister says it makes her want to kill herself...) I use that one more for editing, but I do for writing sometimes. If I'm not on grooveshark, I'm on Pandora.

    And I too have one couch that I seem to write best on in my parents' house. When I move into my apartment, I'll have to find a new spot :/

  10. Sometimes when you write can be as important as where you write. My optimal time is in the morning, when everything feels fresh and creative, but this can be hard in the summer with kids around. My second best is at night, when the house it quiet. I write at the kitchen table--not optimal, but it works.

  11. If I'm really in the zone writing a scene, I can tune out everything- the radio, other people, the dryer buzzing, etc. But if I'm blocked or frustrated, every little sound seems amplified!

  12. I am a coffee shop writer! There's this old wooden desk with matching chairs that I wrote my first book on. Now that I'm starting on my second, I'm splitting time between home and the coffee shop, but when I'm there, I stalk that table like no one's business! And I always have to get the playlist going in the background. I can't tell you how many pairs of earbuds I've bought in the last two years because I forgot mine at home.

  13. I don't usually need anything more than a semi-quiet space. TV I can stand. Radio is a no-no.

  14. I try to keep things quiet. Background noise just doesn't work for me. I generally type at a desk/dogroom with a pair of shelties lodged between my thighs. Click a paragraph, pet a head, that's how it goes. :) I woundn't trade it.

  15. Haha, that's neat about the "off-limits couch". :) I've been writing either on my bed or at my desk lately; I can write when it's quiet, but I like music in the background. :) I don't often need to RUN-AND-WRITE-IT-DOWN-QUICK with novel ideas... but if I get the first line/stanza for a poem, THEN I run-run-run! LOL

  16. My environment doesn't really matter as long as I'm not distracted by anything. I need internet at hand so I can do research on the fly, but no TV, no video games, radio can get annoying, and even music. But I do need SOME background noise.

    Mostly I need room to pace. I need to be able to get up to get a drink of water or coffee, and sometimes I need munchies. That's about it.

  17. I can write just about anywhere, but I really do need quiet. I'm also very easily distracted by the internet, so it's best for me to write by hand when I'm jotting down a new story.

  18. ah, I need total silence, perfect light :) comfy chair, great computer and perfect temperature :)
    But I do spend around ten hours a day in front of my computer so my conditions are understandable :)

  19. For brainstorming and getting ideas I need to do something. When it comes to writing, I need to be alone and wrap myself in the world, and I also need music. For editing, I can be around other people, but they can't distract me.

  20. I can write anywhere, but I do prefer silence. If I can't have silence then I'll put on my headphones for some loud instrumental music.

  21. I find it difficult to write no matter what. It's so hard for me to focus on something for more than 15 minutes. As a result, I am now able to write pretty much anywhere. I've even written in exams on the back of my name sheet! The only problem, I only ever write for a very short time.

    I don't mind listening to music but I usually prefer not to since then I can't think.

  22. Awww, what a sweet comment!

    Funnily - I'd come back just for the music you post. :) I LOVE this angsty track especially.

  23. I could never write in a space where I feel someone watching me. Cafes aren't too bad, same with libraries (if my back's to the wall), but on trains and stuff, I simply can't put words on paper. Maybe that's the extremely paranoid writer in me coming out... :P

  24. I just need some jamming tunes. Oh, and Hot Tamales.

  25. I can write anywhere, as long as, i have my computer and chair!

    For me, it's about the right state of mind... that is the most important!

  26. I have to be at my desktop computer. Now where that desk is set up matters little. I do like things neat so it's better if I know everything around me is in its place, but it doesn't have to be for me to write when I'm of a mind to.

  27. Hi,
    Oh, thanks! I'm glad you like the pictures! ( :

  28. So far my location/environment has varied but has all been within my house:

    * Behind the computer in our 'study' (shared and usually messy)
    * On the couch with my (teensy tiny!) laptop
    * At the kitchen table with my laptop

    and then for distractions:
    * TV (both right in front of me or out of sight but not hearing)
    * my kids playing
    * my husband typing/eating

    If I'm really focused/in-the-zone then it hasn't mattered too much. Then again, I have found myself getting sucked into watching TV so maybe I should close myself away a little more? [not to self]
    I kind of HAVE to deal with at least some distraction though because I almost never have time truly to myself.

    My kids and husband playing right next to me yesterday afternoon did get a little frustrating and distracting, heh.

    I don't think I could listen to music though - I'd probably be singing (badly, hehe) instead of writing.

    I also agree with Caitlin (above), who said "I could never write in a space where I feel someone watching me."!

    I also find it very interesting reading everyone else answers. Thanks for asking the question Kelley.

  29. holy-novel-of-a-comment batman!

  30. Hi, Kelley,

    I liked your post. I'm like you, I write mostly on my couch in the sunniest room in my condo. It's surrounded by windows and facing a park.

    I do most of my planning during walks along the lakefront. I never write anything down, preferring to rely on my memory. If I forget, it wasn't worth writing about.

    Have a good Wednesday.

  31. I can write anywhere, but my own kitchen table is the place I like best. Probably because of its proximity to the coffee machine.

    Love your blog by the way :)

  32. Interesting reading the comments!

    I like writing in my home office, with my desk clear. I can't write in clutter!

  33. I always write on my couch, when I'm using the laptop. Revisions if done on paper can take place out the back, soaking up some sun's rays (mostly in winter 'cause in summer it'd be way too hot). I'd love to have a really nice writing office, but I don't really have the proper set up yet.

  34. Janet Johnson: I get great ideas when I'm the passenger too. Zoning out =s creativity time.

    Lisa Gail Green: A lot of people are. I think I was at some point. But then I remember it's about getting the words down, not how you do that, or what you were wearing when you did :)

    Tiffany Garner: I haven't heard of Grooveshark before. Couches are a very important part of the process lol. And again, thanks for the blog mention! <3

    Kara: Timing is really important. I'm a morning writer, almost solely.

    Gina: SO true. When I'm in the zone, I don't even hear people talking to me lol

    Sarah J. Schmitt: I have a specific library desk I gravitate towards. Coffee shop writing sounds neat to me--always has

    J.L.Campbell: Lucky, I wish I could focus without silence

    Laila Knight: Aw cute mental pic :)

    Taylor Lynn: Yeah, poetry is essential to get down as soon as you get it right in your head.

    Giles Hash: I don't eat when I write. I forget the world when I get into writing lol

    L.G. Smith: <3 that. Longhand writers are amazing to me. I brainstorm by hand, but I type to write

    Dezmond: I like your conditions :)

    Jenna Cooper: I totally agree with you. I can edit with others, but write? Nope.

    Lynda R. Young: <3 silence. I can't have to tune out anything, at least when I first start.

    Ghostie Girl: Short burst really add up quickly though. I'm sure you can write more in bursts than I do in chunks lol

    Sophia Chang: TY! I <3 the songs I put up here. Glad I get to share them.

    Caitlin: I can be the same way. I'm cagey in new writing enviros at first, until I zone out.

    Alex J. Cavanaugh: I wish I could write with music. Sigh.

    Jeff King: Very, very true. All about the brain waves being right. lol.

    Nisa: Good points. I like that you have a stable, stationary place

    Romi: :)

    Michelle: I completely agree with what you said about music. As long as I can zone out, I'm sure I could deal with more. NP!

    Michael Di Gesu: I wish I could remember, but it's not a strong point :)

    Christine Murray: TY! Mmm, coffee...Now I want some iced...

    Talli: Me too! I avoid my bedroom completely if it's cluttered (until, I clean it)

    Trisha: Nice set up. I, too, print to edit.

  35. Thanks for all the great comments, everyone! Really interesting reads...