Where we write can make a huge difference to what we write, how we write, and even how we feel about the finished product. It’s a part of the writing process that’s often overlooked but plays an imperative part in every stage.
However, there’s no right or wrong place to write. We all have our places that we feel comfortable or uncomfortable to commit our ideas to paper or laptop.
Different people’s writing processes always fascinate me, so I spoke to some of my writer friends to see what their writing environments are like, and how it affects them.
I’m fairly easy to please when it comes to my writing environment. I need a comfy chair, some good music, and the right temperature. If I’m too cold I can’t concentrate, so the temperature is really important to me. The atmosphere is important, too: can I relax? Can I concentrate? That’s part of why I like to play music related to what I’m writing. That helps me to get into the right headspace for the piece faster.
If you’d asked me this a year, even longer ago, I would’ve said Starbucks. Something about the mix of noises, fresh smell of coffee, and ability to sit in a warm, comfy corner of the place with my headphones on, totally spurred on the writing in my brain. I wrote more books than I can count while I was there. And edits, boy, let’s just say there’s no place like Starbucks that fixed up my sugar crave when I was in my editing phase haha.This year, however, I find I lean more towards quiet places. Dark, too, on account of my post concussion syndrome. My reading nook does the deal most days (or nights), as it has a comfy couch, my essential oil diffuser on standby, and the perfect environment of book smells – old and new. It also keeps everyone else in the household away 🙂
Ian Charles Douglas
My studio at the top of our house. Far enough away for peace and quiet. Near enough to pop downstairs, fix a coffee and check on the kids. It’s a large attic, filled with books, paintings and bric-a-brac, all there to inspire me. A window looks over Nottingham, also inspirational. My lair, my den, my man cave, my home from home.
It’s all about working from home for me at a desk. I need to be comfortable, so loose, causal clothing is a must for me. Home means fewer distractions like people talking. I like to hear myself think so noise is a no-no. However, sometimes music helps me to write a scene, especially instrumental music that is thematic to a piece I’m working on. Think violins in poignant moments and drums for fight scenes. At home, I have everything I need. Access to my notes, writing reference books, laptop, Wi-Fi and of course, tea. I get to have my desk organised my way, with my own personal flair and I’m in control of the temperature settings. This writer likes to be warm.
My ideal writing environment is more about who I’m with than where I am. I do need a reasonably comfortable seat, but that’s about the only thing that is directly related to the physical environment. I write best and most when I’m on a writing retreat or on a course surrounded by other writers. Having a friend over for a writing date is also useful, and I’ve made many trips to coffee shops to sit and write with friends.
There’s something about having other writers in the vicinity that’s very motivating. It forces you to write because humans are essentially social animals and are therefore motivated by social pressures. That’s a good thing when it comes to writing, it means we’ll write more and be happier about doing so if we’re surrounded by other people who are writing. I’ve written six thousand words in a day when I’ve dedicated a whole day to writing with others. I don’t think I’ve ever managed that when I’ve been on my own.
I’ve written on the subway, in libraries, at restaurants, but Oh my God, I love, love love my writing office. It’s on the top floor of our house and Jeff is working across the way so all I have to do is look out my door and I see him, which makes me so happy. I painted my office deep dark blue despite my mom telling me blue was depressing (it’s not!) and it’s filled with everything I love: photos of my son, husband, friends, original art by friends, snowdomes, my nun collectibles because how you can live without nun figurines, I ask you? It has a couch (also deep dark blue to put stuff on and so Jeff can nap and I can watch him nap from my desk). I blast music as I work, have Go Cubes (pure chewable coffee) at my fingertips as well as chocolate, and when I am here, even if I am hysterically weeping over how badly my work is going, all I have to do is swivel my chair and look around and all is really right with the world.
Elizabeth S Craig
I don’t need a lot to make my writing environment ideal, but I’ve learned over the years that a comfortable chair, good lighting, and an ergonomic mouse will really help with writerly aches and pains. Aside from that, since I started writing when my kids were small, I have the ability to be very flexible. I can write in busy, noisy places and at the spur of the moment. But comfort is key!
My ideal writing environment is somewhere rural and peaceful, with a lake or coastline close by. I like to think through plot lines as I write, and having a beautiful forest trail or coastline to walk along as I do that would be absolutely welcome!
Every person in this post has a different way of writing. Some like nature; some like solitude; some like the hustle and bustle of the city. It really does prove that everyone has a way that works for them.
The best way to find your ideal writing environment is to experiment. Much like everything else in writing, you’ll find something that works for you if you try different things.
I found what worked best for me by accident. I often find unlikely places that work, too, such as the tram on the way to and from work.
My favourite place will always be my sofa, though. It’s where I’m most relaxed and in control of the environment around me.
Over to You
What’s your ideal writing environment? What environments do you find the most difficult to concentrate in? Share your experiences in the comments!