Writers can, technically, write anywhere. As long as we have a notebook, computer, or just a napkin, we can punch out some lines. But, most likely we writers have a habit. We like to choose a place to write because that’s where we’re comfortable or that’s where we can get the most work done.
Many writers like cafes. Famous writers like TS Elliot, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, and F. Scott Fitzgerald all wrote in cafes and have made it a sort of a nice tradition to follow along with. Psychologists believe that writers flock to cafes because they long to be observed in public. Because writing is an internalized art, we may feel the need to be acknowledged as actually doing work. Besides the tradition and possible psychological draws to coffee shops, they also contain caffeine, a beloved substance of creatives. There is also a time limit. Sometimes as writers we see our days stretched out ahead of us like a void. Going to a café gives us a time limit, either because we can’t sit there for eight hours without ordering anything, or because we need to eventually get home. This subconscious (or very conscious) time limit can usually push writers to get something done more than they would in the comfort of their home.
Many writers, however, don’t find themselves in cafes. They’re either home, in the office, or on public transportation. It’s interesting to see where writers are getting work done because, I think, writers are generally curious people and want to see how others live. I mean, we write what other’s live so it’s no wonder we like to pry a little into people’s lives.
Here are a few places writers might find themselves.
J.K. Rowling famously wrote at the Elephant House café in Edinburgh.
Gertrude Stein wrote in the driver’s seat of her Model T Ford while her partner Alice B. Toklas ran errands around Paris.
DH Lawrence wrote outside, in the shade of a tree. He said, “The trees are like living company.”
Virginia Woolf worked in the basement of her small publishing company.
Sir Walter Scott wrote his epic poem “Marmion” on horseback in Scotland.
Edith Wharton wrote each morning in bed.
Marcel Proust wrote in bed, but during the night.
James Joyce wrote in bed at night on his stomach.
Maya Angelou wrote in a minimally furnished hotel room.
Dame Edith Sitwell would rest in an open coffin before sitting down to write.
I personally write either on my couch with a cat trying to sit on my keyboard and a dog warming my feet, or outside of a café where I can hear fighter pilots practicing their maneuvers.
Karen Chronister -“I have a big tufted writing chair in my living room and a special candle, a favorite corner at a place called Merridees in Franklin, TN, and a friend’s 100 year old porch in Pennsylvania with great pillars and awnings. Those are my three!! They all have a special mojo!”
Jessica Evans– “Lately, I’ve really been enjoying writing on post. I can’t hear fighter pilots, but I get to listen to lots of artillery fire and somehow that’s comforting.”
Beth Miller– “I have found that I can’t write in my home…too many distractions, stuff to clean, food to eat, facebook posts to check, etc. so I write at a local coffee shop that has nice big tables and just enough chatter to keep me focused on my work, or I put in headphones and listen to instrumental music. It might have something to do with the fact that I was raised in a large family so having movement and chatter or music around me actually can keep me more focused on writing than silence.”
Anna Urquhurt– “I have a ‘writing chair’ that I write in – a big, leather thing next to my overflowing bookshelves. My chair used to be in my office, but since we’ve moved and I lost my office it’s in my living room. Either way, it’s writing-home for when the house is quiet and I get to play.”
Drema Drudge– “I’m going to echo Beth. Usually I enjoy writing at a local coffeehouse that takes great care of me and has fab customers to interact with. But when I’m on a deadline or am doing what I call “deep” writing and need to concentrate, I write at home on the sofa. Now I can say I will write while in the company of Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf, thanks to Barry Drudge.”
Barry Drudge– “I have a music room where an old green fluffy chair awaits me when I write (Drema bought it for me). I put on familiar music, usually vinyl, and get into the groove. It’s my favorite writing space!”
Annie Frazier Crandell– “I’m a coffee shop writer, myself. But I have to cycle between the two Starbucks locations in my town or else I start getting blocked up. Every now and then I can write at home, usually at the dining table. I’ve hardly ever been able to write much at the big beautiful desk my dad handed down to me that lives in my office/guest room. Go figure.”
Sara Beth Lowe– “I write in the hard places, those that bring me memories I both want to suppress and preserve.”
Emily Ruth Vander Ark– “Used to be I could write any time, anywhere. Then I needed a coffee shop or a library. I’m in a new phase now, and I haven’t figured out what works yet.”
Lindsey Bee- “I’m far less glamorous than everyone else! I write at Mcdonalds, where the WiFi and Diet Coke flow freely. It’s unpretentious and kind of lends itself to wanting to hunker down with headphones.Wherever we end up writing doesn’t really matter. It’s just as long as we actually continue to write that is the key. But, having your special place can definitely make a difference.”
Karen George– “I write in coffeehouses, restaurants, parks, in my car, on my patio, in the library, in waiting rooms.”
Tom Pierce– ” love my home office in my basement… desk, bookshelves, well-worn leather couch–and no TV or window. But also just as happy upstairs with the laptop on the couch or recliner.”
Chris Gay– “I don’t have a specially designed writing space. I generally sat at my kitchen table and went at it. But now that I no longer live alone (my elderly mom and my nephew moved in with me) my kitchen table doesn’t quite do the trick anymore. But in the temperate months of Spring and Fall I love to find a nice spot at the Louisville Zoo with my laptop and write. It’s something about being out there in the park-like setting and all the exotic animals nearby. That helps me a lot.”
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Mackenzie Jervis is a Summer 2016 Graduate. She lives in Texas with her husband, two cats, and puppy. She has way too many books, more cameras than she knows how to properly use, and a never ending need to keep moving. She write about her life and adventures at home and around the world at A Wandering Scribbler.