Is it better to hear birds chirping or an espresso machine frothing in the background?
What would help more: the sounds of silence, or a chaotic blend of conversation, music and traffic noise?
Is a lake view or a street view more inspirational?
The places where writers write are an integral part of a magic formula.
The unique combination of time, place, and mindset that will please our muse and help us make beautiful words together.
Is there an ideal place, or should we forget about it and just write anywhere, willy-nilly?
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” ~ Stephen King, On Writing
I’m thinking that the above scenario was not ideal. Not only is King not in a corner, he’s getting strange looks from onlookers. Personally, that would send my muse running.
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.” ~ E.B. White
Check it out — a hut of his own with a big window overlooking water. The only thing I’d do to make it perfect? Move the desk under the window! Why have a view like that and not look at it?
“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” ~ Virginia Woolf
Many have written about how Woolf wrote standing up, but she also had a big, comfy chair she retreated to at her publishing office plus this desk with a view, tucked away in her small cottage retreat.
Just a room would not do! Like E.B. White, she enjoyed a separate building of her own.
“But the Internet in general—and social media in particular—fosters this notion that everything should be shared, everything is communal. When it works, it’s great. But it specifically doesn’t work, I think, in the realm of cultural production … Good novels aren’t collaborated on. Good novels are produced by people who voluntarily isolate themselves, and go deep, and report from the depths on what they find.” ~ Jonathan Franzen
That is Jonathan Franzen’s writing desk. There is nothing to distract … and there is no connection to the Internet.
I don’t know if the lighting was intentional for the photo, but it’s not just stark, it’s dark.
I think I’d prefer a building like E.B. White’s or Virginia Woolf’s any day. Who wants to feel punished while they write?
“And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.” ~ J.K. Rowling
Is it just me, or does J.K. look tired?
On Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw once remarked that writers in coffee shops seemed like posers, until she learned they were all just trying to find a place to write, away from their clamorous homes.
We could feel bad for J.K., but we know how it all turned out in the end.
“I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I rent a hotel room for a few months, leave my home at six, and try to be at work by six-thirty. To write, I lie across the bed, so that this elbow is absolutely encrusted at the end, just so rough with callouses … I stay until twelve-thirty or one-thirty in the afternoon, and then I go home and try to breathe; I look at the work around five; I have an orderly dinner—proper, quiet, lovely dinner; and then I go back to work the next morning … I insist that all things are taken off the walls. I don’t want anything in there. I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything.” ~ Maya Angelou
At first glance, Angelou doesn’t look too picky. I mean, didn’t we all write on our beds as teenagers?
And then I found that quote. She was very particular! I had to edit some of it out for the sake of brevity. Clearly, her place was a very important part of her process.
“I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’ve got to be puffing and sipping.” ~ Truman Capote
Working in a horizontal position. First Maya Angelou and now Truman Capote.
I also read that James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Edith Sitwell did well lying down. (Rumor has it that Sitwell didn’t just lie down. She would climb into an open coffin!)
Now, on that rather weird note, I hand it over to you.
Where do you like to write? How important is place … and body position … for encouraging your muse to come out and play?
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