Ask A Wench: Where Do You Write?

Pat here:

This month, the wenches are all under the gun and chose an easy fun question to discuss: “Do you find that the seasons or weather or time of day can affect your creativity or productivity? What is your favorite place to write?”

Nicola's gardenNicola: I’m writing this sitting in our living room with the view in the photo. This is a problem because on the rare fine days we have had this summer I would prefer to be sitting out there enjoying the garden. I generally find this time of year quite soporific, especially if it’s humid weather; by the early afternoon I want to take a nap which could go on for several hours! It doesn’t help that August in the UK is holiday season and so there’s a sense of putting your feet up and relaxing. Sadly this isn’t on the cards when, like me, you have a 1st September deadline!

I’ve always been a bit of a lark rather than an owl so I will start work early, flag a bit in the early afternoon but get a second wind between about 4 and 6pm. Most of the time I work in my study at the front of the house which, because it’s a Victorian cottage, has thick walls and is cool in the summer and warmer in the winter. Autumn always feels an energising season to me which is odd when the trees are losing their leaves, but I love the colours and the sense of a crisp chill in the air. I’m definitely not someone who responds well to the heat which I think may come from my North European genes!

Christina:  My creativity is definitely adversely affected by hot weather – I can’t stand it! If I’m uncomfortable and my Christinahands/fingers are too hot I can’t type properly, and I get very cranky too. Luckily I live in an old house that is usually pretty cold, even in summer. It takes extreme heat for it to be bad here so I can’t complain too much. In the winter, it can be too cold, but a friend of mine knitted me some fingerless gloves which really help. As for where I prefer to write – on my laptop sitting on my bed with lots of pillows behind my back is my favourite. I suffer from a lot of back pain so that’s the most comfortable place for me to be. I occasionally sit at my desk but can only handle that type of chair for a short while.

At the moment, the Virginia Creeper that grows on our house has gone completely mad, so this is the view from my window as I sit on my bed working. It’s like being in a green cave, especially when the sunlight shines through the leaves. Very pretty and kind of cozy too!

Susan: My favorite season to write and favorite place to write are very different. I love writing on winter days, preferably too cold and snowy to go out. Winter is a certain kind of quiet, soft and silent, outside sounds muffled, and inside we're cozy and content. My writing muse seems to love it, and I've found I do well diving down and focusing on the books on winter days. Maybe because I've often had deadlines in December through February, leaving me no choice but to knuckle Susan-back porchdown and be productive in the winter atmosphere! I love my home office, a cozy back bedroom filled with bookcases and a big desk, a comfy chair, and a chaos of papers and books in the sort of writer's tumult that doesn't bother me in the least and is easily cleared up later. 

Now, though, my favorite place to work is our screened-in back porch, which we added last year. This spring and summer, I am spending as much time out there as I can, and it's great for writing. 

The porch is a peaceful place with a nice balance of sun and shade, fresh air, and the sound of birds and breezes rustling through the trees. I sometimes take my laptop out there, but mostly I work with paper and pen and notebooks, spinning out handwritten drafts that I take to the laptop or desktop. I'm getting lots done there this summer, having finished a new book in July and now writing a draft for another one. The porch is not great in the winter, the season my Muse loves best, but she's happy on the porch this summer, so we are making creative progress.  

Pat: Sunshine and time of day definitely affect my creativity.  Seasons… depends on sunshine. I need sun just to think,Gardenyard which is one of the many reasons we moved to Southern California. May used to be the only month when it would cloud up here. After years of living where it snowed and rained and I seldom saw blue sky, I could live with May. And then it became May and June. And then the gray crept into July. This year, it has almost consistently been gray in the mornings since last November. Which brings in the other part of this question—what time of day do I write. And the answer, of course, is morning, when it’s cloudiest here. I think the universe is telling me something. I hate cold weather, love warmth, but I can write through either, as long as I have sun. Somehow, I need to figure out how to write in afternoons, although sitting in afternoon sunshine might bake me, so there’s that.

Of course, the upside is that every part of our yard is gorgeous for writing. I’ve made certain I have comfortable seats scattered everywhere, and all of them can be moved to accommodate whatever I’m doing. I prefer writing longhand, but in a crunch, I figure out how to see a laptop screen outside. If I have a sunny day and my swing, I’m in my happy place!

MMJ catary Jo: Maybe it's because Susan and I are both from Upstate New York, but I share her taste for writing in winter, when the world leaves us alone.  Unfortunately, for years my deadlines have been September 1st, which gives me deadline crunches over the summer. Not my preference!

  But my favorite place to write is at my computer workstation on my desktop computer.  I had the workstation custom built to be a couple of inches shorter than usual because I'm a couple of inches shorter than usual, too.  Because of my MJ yardindustrial design background, the work station is modular and the half dozen pieces can be arranged in different ways if I like. So far I've kept to the same configuration because it works best.  This set up has lots of space to spread out papers and research books, plus it has the advantage of being a convenient snoozing spot for Princess Flufferbella. She's within easy petting distance.

 Plus, to my right are a bank of windows that look out on my neighbor's greenery. Very soothing!  Now if I could just organize the Muse as well as I've organized my work space…

Andrea: I’m a creature of habit, so I find that whatever the season, I'm most productive when I write in my study, surrounded by my familiar books, as well as all the whimsical little bits and bobs I’ve collected over the years, which make me Andrea's studysmile when I look around. I tend to be morning person—I usually come down with my cup of coffee around 6:30-7 am, run though my social media, skim the news, and then get to work. I also occasionally work in the evening, sometimes until midnight. I have a large bank of windows beside my desk so I can glance out for occasional distractions. (The squirrels and birds can be very amusing.) If I had a fabulous view straight ahead, I worry that I might be TOO distracted.

My routine of taking a “plotting walk” every day to appreciate the beauties of Nature is where I often figure out a plot problem or unknot a kink in the story. The physical act of walking sort of jump starts the brain into using different circuits. It’s a ritual that works very well, and I stick with it through every season—even when I bundle up in ski gear in the dead of winter (including goggles if it’s snowing.)

Occasionally, when I'm really looking to get my imagination to “set sail” and catch a gust of creative wind, I will take my laptop up to my bedroom, where my large antique pond yacht, which I found on  Portobello Road in London, is constantly changing in the light and shadows, reminding me to just let things flow.

Anne:  I have a favorite time to write, which is first thing in the morning. I'll make myself a cup of good coffee, and write for an hour or two, then have breakfast, and then write some more. Seasons don't generally affect my writing habits, RainyDayWindowthough I do like a rainy day, and on a really hot day I don't feel as motivated. Since I moved to my new house, I write in bed on my laptop, mainly because I don't have my study set up yet — I know, shameful! 

Sometimes when I'm a bit stuck on a scene, or not sure where I want to go next in the story, I will take myself off to one of the branches of my local library, where I like their chairs, and I look out onto a scene of gum trees (eucalyptus) and I write by hand, and then I come home and type up what I've written. 

FinishTheDamnBookHere's a photo of the view from my window in the rain, and also one of my motivational coffee mug, which was a conference mug from long ago. "Finish the damn book" was a favorite saying of Emma Darcy, who was a wonderful Australian writer.

Pat again: Do you have a favorite creative space? A favorite season?

17 thoughts on “Ask A Wench: Where Do You Write?”

  1. Well, I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but my most productive time of day has always been early morning. In my work life, when I had the opportunity, I would tackle the most complicated tasks in the morning and save the simple for the afternoon.
    Interesting post. Always interested in how you creative folk do the things you do..

  2. I’m not a writer, and I do most of my stitching sitting in my big chair in the living room with the tv on, but also with a large group of windows in front of me that I can also look at things happening–fisherpeople on the ponds, birds enjoying the ponds when no fisherpeople are around, the trees, rain, etc.
    But when I’m sitting at my computer in the “workroom”, I’m also looking out two large windows at the neighbor’s backyard (but they put up a tall fence so I only see part of the yard) and across the top of the corn field on the other side. Next year, probably soybeans. But it’s interesting seeing them putting the crops in & taking them up & when no crops, looking across the huge field to trees and other activity.
    Just watched a large hawk circling over the corn field & then landing on the cable line running across the back edge of our properties. He’s sitting there watching for a meal & it’s always fascinating to watch him take off, preferably not after a meal (but he does have to eat…) Some days, I don’t get much done on the computer for all the watching!

  3. Well I’m definitely a night owl but my creative space is sitting at my instruments doing music. I have separate room for my harps & guitars with a wall of windows. My piano is in what would be a dining area. Windows there too. I love the pictures you all posted. I especially loved Susan’s sun porch since we are going to put one on our house this next year.

  4. What an enjoyable post with some lovely photos; thank you all! (I like that mug, Anne; it looks well loved.)
    Spring and autumn are probably my favorite seasons as I don’t care for too hot or too cold. Most of my recent creative projects have been made at a friend’s monthly art gathering, so that’s my current favorite creative space.

  5. Jeanne, your rooms sound lovely.
    I am envious of Susan’s screened-in porch too. Mary Jo has one as well, and I think it would be lovely to sit out there on a warm evening and not have to worry about mozzies.

  6. I used to be a night owl and could get lots done on the computer at night. Now, I find the lighting drags my eyes at night on the computer so if I’m going to do a lot, I’d better do it in the afternoon.
    Morning messing around outside works well…the morning air really clears my brain. Though I don’t manage to get up too dreadfully early because I tend to stay up way too late reading.
    I too really like our screened in porch in the spring, fall and on warm winter days. NOT in the heat of the summer. Nothing welcoming about 90 degree heat and 90% humidity.
    As to my favorite spot….definitely seasonal and daylight dependent. I can’t work sitting in bed so the desk it is. Or my project table.
    This was a really fun topic…


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