Writing Spaces and Rituals

I’ve developed a series of rituals over the years that really help me get “in the mood” for writing. If I’m out in public, a coffeehouse, a cup of coffee, a laptop, and even better, a writing partner, all can get me really going. There’s something so very writerly about it. It’s even been the subject of many comics and blogs, some amusing, some a bit more truthful.

The best cafes for me to write in are the independent types. Not to knock Starbucks (because Rob Diaz just might take out a hit on me if I did) but I like the sort of eclectic, homegrown place that just bubbles over with creativity. Being surrounded by creative people helps, too! I’m not the first to notice the power of a write-in, surrounded by your fellows, sometimes even competing to see who can write the most words in ten minutes. A cup of coffee, or even a up of tea, as my tastes have turned to lately, can really inspire that writing mood.

Sometimes, though, budget concerns, or the pull of a little person on my pants leg as I try to flee out of the front door keep me from making it to my favorite cafes. Sometimes, my favorite cafes even close, leaving me bereft and lost as I try to find a new one. So I have to figure out how to carve out some space to write in my very small, very noisy and decidedly uninspiring home.

Writing by hand, in carefully chosen and draconically hoarded Moleskine notebooks, is one of the best ways for me to inspire writing. I can write anywhere, even without power. I can sit at the picnic table next to the above-ground pool we got for the girls this summer, curl up with my husband before bed, or tuck one in my purse for scribbling while I wait at doctor’s office and the kid’s taken over my iPod for distraction. A Pilot Precise V5 writing pen, a cup of tea (imported from England and lovingly brewed in my bright red kettle) is all I need for inspiration. If I need to shut out the distractions of my home, my iPod loaded with inspiring symphonic music is all I need to get going.

So what gets your muse dancing? How do you prepare for writing? Where? When? We’d love to see pictures of your writing spaces!

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8 thoughts on “Writing Spaces and Rituals

  1. Like you, I go to a cafe. Don’t laugh, but it’s McDonalds. Not you’re regular crappy coffee/hamburger section, but their McCafe. The cappuccinos are truly the best coffee you can get in our city. None of the other cafe’s come up to theirs – no, truly, I kid you not. They have cakes, macaroons, cheesecake, banana loaf, raisin toast and cookies.

    The particular McCafe I go to is new and has armchairs as well as your regular booths and tall tables with stools. Plenty of power points for laptops too. Since becoming a regular there, one of the managers brings me a super large cappuccino (free) after I’ve been working a couple of hours. Tucked away in a sunny corner with my notebook, the hours fly by.

    Trying to work from home doesn’t always work, I have an elderly Italian neighbour who would have me over for coffee and her special Italian almond cookies every single day if she could – LOL for three hours – AND for dinner every night, God bless her.

    I read a lot, and it might be one sentence in a book that will leap out at me and send me in a totally different direction. But, for real inspiration nothing beats the prompts right here on Today’s Author and Friday Fictioneers. 😀

  2. I find the people in coffee shops to distracting. I write in my office. I have an old comfy chair to sit in, a pile of notebooks (one for each project), and a handful of colored gel pens. A cup of coffee completes the scene.

  3. Knocking Starbucks is just uncool, Heather. 🙂 In all seriousness, I used to find cafes — be it Starbucks, Panera or any other place — to be a good writing spot for me. But they stopped working for me some time ago so I stopped trying to write there. It may be time to start going there to write again, but I’m not sure yet. I’m finding writing at home to be difficult these days, too, because there’s always a distraction of one sort or another.

    My most successful writing adventures these days are actually happening while working outside in the garden or mowing the lawn. These are times where the multi-tasker in me is largely at rest because the main task at hand — weeding or pushing the mower– is really a single-tasking sort of thing. So my mind is free to wander and I can invent vivid scenes and wild characters at will. The trouble is that I then have to remember them for a time when I can sit down and write them. So, I’m still working that out, I guess.

    My new phone has some excellent voice recognition capabilities for text messages. I haven’t explored it enough to know if any other app on it can use the voice features, but if I give it to my children for a few minutes they’ll figure it out for me. If it can, perhaps I can tell my story to my phone as I weed the garden. And then my writing space can officially be the garden, which I’d really like.

  4. Heather, I love your venture to local cafes. Moleskin notebooks – enduring and so well crafted. But I can’t write in public places. I’m too social, I talk to everyone, bugging them and me. I need to walk around my house, birthing the words behind me as I go, and I like my library close at hand with all my reference books. I know, I know, it’s all on the web, but books to handle – ah. My handwriting has been sacrificed to arthritis. I’m thankful I can still draw and paint, the muscles differently used than when writing. My writing space will get moved shortly, to a less public room with a window to the left. Part of my overall organization plan. We’ll see if more gets done. Rob, make that garden too inviting and we’ll all be over to try it out!

  5. Heather,

    Cafés tend to get me in the mood to write, but I can’t do the actual writing there. The cafes are great for people-watching, and giving habits, quirks, and little plot points to my characters and stories. But then when it’s time to write, that all becomes distracting.

    If I really want to get to work, I’ve found the 2 places that work best for me are nearly-empty restaurants or libraries. And in both cases I think the magic balance is that there is a certain amount of hubbub, but it’s at a distance and doesn’t involve me.

    And I have a personal affinity for Clairfontaine notebooks…the Moleskines are incompatible with fountain pen ink. 😉

  6. I can’t write in cafes – I need wide open spaces outdoors! 😀

  7. Oh I so wish I could write with my iPod, or Pandora. I have great music on Pandora. Just doesn’t work.

  8. For me, it’s about time of day, not so much location. I like writing either early or late. Both of those times seem more private, more insular. Secretive, even. Works for me! 🙂

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