Ask-A-Wench: Writing Spaces

Jane austen“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.”

            –Jane Austen

Susan here, with a look at home writing spaces today for our “Ask-a-Wench” question for October. You know we’re pretty much writing all the time, but where do we write? Turns out we each have more than one favorite place to write in our homes and elsewhere. Authors don’t always need a big library-like space filled with books, a big table or desk, a beautiful view—though that would be wonderful! We do need a space that supports creativity, invention, focus, materials and research. Jane Austen wrote on a tiny octagonal table that barely allowed room for paper, pen, and ink, and the chair is pretty but spare as well. But it provided what she needed, at least for some of her writing hours. (image source)

Ursula Le Guin’s beautiful writing room, seen below, was filled with books and comfortable furniture, and she wrote wonderful stories here. A quick internet search for writer’s offices will show a wide range of rooms crammed with books, papers, sticky notes, all the flotsam and jetsam that writing a book can generate. We Wenches have a range of spaces too. Here are some of our favorite writing spots.



Do you have a favorite place for writing – your home office or another comfy place outside or elsewhere? 



Anne here.

I have several places in which I like to write. I've written in hotel rooms, cafes, airports and all kinds of places. When I'm deep into a book and have a deadline looming I can write just about anywhere. When I'm stuck on a scene, or don't know exactly what approach to take for the next scene, I will often go to my local library and write there by hand. I don't let myself leave until I have three or four pages of handwriting done (which usually translates to around 1000 words). Writing by hand nearly always gets me unstuck. 

In my old house, I used to write in my office, where everything was set up to write and all my reference books were on hand. But my main computer is now quite old, and I've had to replace it with a laptop, and that's made me more mobile. So sometimes I'll write at the dining room table, but during the last few months, through winter, I've taken to writing on my laptop in bed. I'm writing there now, and this is my view. 


Pat here.

My writing space can be the boring little corner of my house filled with computers and books… or if we’re broad minded, it’s the world. Seeing new places, meeting new people, enjoying new experiences are what develops the landscape for creativity. So here’s my space as I write this.  (Machu Picchu, above)

Mary Jo here.  

Some people can write anywhere. I am not one of them.  I need to be sitting comfortably upright with elbow room and a keyboard at a proper ergonomic height.  Which is why most of my writing is done at my desk, which was custom built to be 2" lower than standard and everything it is in the write place.

My very comfortable and adjustable Aeron office chair always has scarves and shawls of different weights draped over the back so I can keep my neck the right degree of warm.  Sometimes I do draft writing on my electronic keyboard when I'm sitting on my office sofa and everything is adjusted to be the right height and lighting. Yes, I'm fussy that way.  <G>

And of course every office needs a cat or two for inspiration and entertainment!



Like Anne, I can write almost anywhere, as long as I have my laptop and somewhere comfortable to sit. I have some problems with my back, so I prefer places where I can support it with lots of cushions, but that can be a chair, my bed or on one of my chaises longues (yes, I have several – see an earlier blog post for my obsession with these). I do have some absolute favourite spots though, and one of them is what I call my “bower”. The definition of that word seems to vary from “an attractive dwelling or retreat”, “a pleasant place in the shade under trees or climbing plants in the forest or a yard” to “a lady’s private apartment in a medieval hall or castle”. Mine is a sort of combination of those, a modern version of the private place – a bow window or bay (not sure what is the correct term) in my study/office with Virginia creeper framing the outside and a comfy chair. The light there is fantastic, as is the view across the garden, and it’s a lovely peaceful spot where I can gather my thoughts. Perfect for writing!

Nicola on LundyNicola: 

I need quiet in order to be able to concentrate on writing which rules out places like coffee shops or anywhere with music, loud noises or people talking. This is a shame as I love “people-watching” and would be happy to work in a busy place if it wasn’t so distracting. Perhaps noise-cancelling headphones are the answer! I tend to work in my study at home, which is a lovely cosy room with all my reference books to hand and a dog bed for Rainbow. The view from the window is the thatched cottages across the village green.

If I’m working whilst I’m on a UK holiday I do enjoy the change of scene and finding a new writing nook. Here I am a couple of years ago on Lundy Island, writing in the pub with a wonderful view out across the sea!

Andrea's writing spot

I prefer to write in my familiar spaces, surrounding by all my eclectic little bits and bobs, rather than in a coffee shop or other place with movement and noise. (I’m easily distracted!) I usually sit in my writing room which is usually cheerfully messy. But at times, when I'm stuck on a scene, I’ll go upstairs to my bedroom, which is always filled with light and visually quieter. I’ll sink into the cushions of the love seat and hope the the sight of my antique pond yacht encourage the Muse to cast off the mooring lines and get some creative wind filling the sails!


Susan-back porch2Susan:

Like some, I need quiet to write and wouldn’t do much writing in a public place. I’m very fortunate to have dedicated rooms at home for writing and for research and reading, ever since the kids moved on and their bedrooms were up for grabs. My home office has a big desk and walls of bookcases, and the smallest bedroom is a perfect spot for a comfy reading chair and more bookcases, where I do a lot of research and writing by hand. The guest room is another quiet space with a handsome desk where I sometimes work on other projects. Yet my favorite spot for writing is our screened porch, a peaceful place overlooking the backyard where I can step away from whatever is happening in the house (my husband works at home too, and with a busy family, there are often others in and out).

The screened porch is a great place to write most of the year, though not used much in winter! This past spring and summer, I wrote most of my upcoming book, The Scottish Bride, on the porch. But the days are starting to get chilly, so I’ll write most of the current book inside until the weather warms up again.

How about you — do you have a dedicated favorite spot in your home for writing or reading, or do you enjoy writing or reading in a public spot like a cafe or a library?

13 thoughts on “Ask-A-Wench: Writing Spaces”

  1. LOL, Mary Jo, yours looks neat compared to mine right now – my upstairs office is such a wreck of papers, notebooks, research books, pens, sticky notes, and teacups that I couldn’t even get a decent photo angle! I’m fine writing amid creative chaos, but I’m not quite ready to share it on the www! 😊

  2. I have a nice room with a desk, plenty of light, a fan, and a cat bed under the desk at my feet. My plot cards are on the door to the room so I can organize them as needed. Our four cats take turns warming my feet during the winter. In the summer I move to my back porch. However, I can write in bed or my recliner. As a genealogist, I have found that I can right anywhere anywhere from a boisterous library to a cemetery. It’s best if I write while the idea is fresh and the details are in front of me. I work for an arena. My position has a small podium and a chair, so when it is slow, I can organize my thoughts about plots, character studies, and write a short sketch, or a scene up to 1500 words, depending on how busy I am during the show.

  3. Thanks, Jeanne! I’m sure your porch will be wonderful! It’s such a nice addition to the house, we all love sitting out there now. I first wanted to add one to the house one day when I saw Mary Jo’s screened porch, which is a beautiful space. A great place for writing, reading, or just relaxing!

  4. What a fun post and what wonderful pictures! Thank you, all.
    I do most of my reading and (letter) writing on our loveseat. I also do a good bit of reading in bed and on the bus going hither and yon.

  5. I’m guessing that physical writing is the easy bit. Creating characters and plot in your head seems more difficult. I used to go for walks through woodland or beautiful hillside to ponder scientific research ideas and wonder if fiction writers do something simillar. Sitting in a comfy chair might end up with dreaming! I still like to walk but might listen to audio now. Audio books can also relieve the tedium of household tasks!

  6. Quantum, I’ve read that walking and water can really help the ideas to spin, and several writer friends go for regular ‘plotting walks’. I walk my dog most nights along a lovely path beside a creek, but I never seem to get any plotting done — I’m too busy listening to the birds or watching them, or smiling as my dog plays with other dogs or bounds into the creek. I always come home refreshed, but plotless.
    You can see a few photos of my dog walking area here:

  7. I should go for plotting walks and often mean to, but I’m just too lazy! You’re right though, coming up with the ideas is the difficult part, not the actual writing!


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