Thursday, August 22, 2013


In the July/August 2013 issue of Writers Digest seven authors took the readers behind their desks to look at the totems that inspire them and keep them writing. I looked around and didn’t find any inspirational totem. Woe is me. But the article did inspire me to write about my writing space with pictures. (A disclaimer here – I cleaned it up before taking pictures or at least what you can see.) A while back I remember Sandy Parshall posting pictures of her writing spot and other Guppies, a chapter of Sisters in Crime, followed with pictures of their own writing spots, too.

My nesting chair where I write early mornings.
Recently Edith Maxwell on the Guppy anthology blog (
blogged about going on a writing retreat somewhere by water and staying in a monastic room and how much writing she could accomplish there. She didn’t say where it was. The following week Gigi Pandian blogged about writing in coffee cafes and how her writing flows there. I know some of my fellow bloggers have written about writing in caf├ęs or coffee shops, too. So that got me to thinking about where I write best even though I don’t have any inspirational writing totems in my clutter, or if I do, I can’t see them to have them inspire me.

Twice I attended Seascape Writers Retreat in Connecticut, and while it was a good experience in many ways, I couldn’t write in the afternoon set aside for writing. We were to work on making changes from the critiques we’d received. Instead, I took a walk in the woods or read in my room.

My library.dinning room table where I write.
I have never been able to write at workshops where a prompt is given to us, either. I sit there distracted by all the others writing furiously to finish their great ideas in the ten to fifteen minutes allotted to us. Finally, I start writing something, but it’s too brief and pathetic to share with all the other brilliant and talented writers willing to share their work. The truth is that except for my journal which I can write in anywhere, I can’t write anyplace other than my home. As for the journal, it doesn’t contain anything anyone would want to read anyway so it doesn’t matter where I write it. It’s more a litany of what I did that day, where I went, what I saw, etc. In fact, the only way anyone would want to read it is if they suffer from insomnia, maybe.

Where I edit my final drafts. 
So in spite of daily distractions from phone calls from family, friends or telephone solicitors - no I don’t have caller ID because I don’t want family or friends to think I’m screening my calls when I don’t answer - and the distractions of my dog or cats deciding it’s time for me to pay attention to them, I still do my best writing at home - but only in specific places. I write poetry or my blogs in my nesting chair in the living room usually in the mornings with coffee and before I have my breakfast. I work on the first draft of short stories or my books at the table in my library/dining room/office in one particular spot. All my work starts out written in long hand on notebook paper with a pen before being typed into the computer. I do all my editing on the computer. There have been a few times I’ve written on the patio in the summer, but that is rare because I get distracted by birds at the feeder or hummingbirds at the hanging flowers or even an annoying fly or yellow jacket.

In the same Writers Digest article I mentioned at the beginning, the totem that resonated with me was J.T. Ellison’s. When she first started writing, she wrote to Stuart Woods, a well-published author, for advice. He wrote back and said, “There are no rules except those you create page by page.” So she keeps those words on a sign on her door. I think that’s not only a good rule for our actual writing, but also for where we are most comfortable writing. For me it’s at home alone except for my mostly sleeping critters.

Actually, after I'd typed this and sent it for review, Gilda, a friend of mine in one of my book clubs sent me this picture. I think I'll frame it and use it for my totem because actually it expresses my view, too.

Even if you write nothing more than letters or cards to someone, where do you write best? 


  1. Loved seeing your space, Gloria. My workroom is currently unusable because it's piled full of boxes of youngest's belongings since his move back here. That won't change until he gets a job and his own place. *sigh*

    Right now, I work in my recliner in the living room or at a local coffee shop or library, but I hope to be able to get back into my own space eventually.

  2. PS I'm leaving for Killer Nashville, so I won't be commenting on posts for the rest of the week. It's not that I don't love my blog partners, but internet will be sporadic and time will be stretched thin.

  3. Nice post, Gloria. It doesn't really matter where you write, does it? Any place is good if it works for you.

    Almost all of my writing occurs at my desk, on my computer. But my plotting can occur anywhere. In the car. In the shower. In my dreams. I often will wake up early in the morning and lie in bed, working through plot problems. Then I'll jot down what I figure out before I go back to sleep for another hour or two. It's wonderful to wake up later, knowing I've solved some of my problems and can hit the computer running.

  4. Linda, I understand about having kid's stuff. When my daughter decided to sell her home to hit the road as a travel nurse, all her stuff ended up in my garage. Eventually, she settled in one place and much of it was shipped there, but a lot of it stayed in my garage. Some of it sold at a garage sale, some went into the guest bedroom, but not all.

    I also understand about being at Killer Nashville. There's too much going on at conferences to spend time on a computer. It's the same when we're away on vacation - at least it is for me.

  5. Thank you for stopping by, Barb. No, it doesn't really matter because it's wherever we work best and like everything else, we're all different. My plotting and ideas can occur anywhere, too, but probably most often when walking in the morning with Maggie, my dog.

  6. Anywhere private and quiet works for me, Gloria. I wouldn't be able to write in a coffee shop or the library--too many distractions. But at home or the beach, as long as I'm private without noise or people (family) asking me questions, I can write. I do good plotting while driving alone. Some people can't understand why I like driving alone, if they only knew what I was doing mentally--they wouldn't ask.

  7. I prefer writing at my desk, regardless of whether I am in Savannah or in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I prefer to edit my work or study craft elsewhere – outside if possible, otherwise as close to the outside as I can manage. Maybe a screened porch if the bugs are too bad, or a chair next to a window.

    I am rarely able to respond immediately to writing prompts either. I want an idea to percolate a bit before I commit to ink on paper (or bytes on disk). I have never been one to write until I thought of something to say.

    ~ Jim

  8. E.B. I need to be alone, too. I also don't mind driving alone although I usually listen to the radio - NPR news or music. Often the radio gives me ideas for my writing. It's also why I prefer walking alone because I don't have as many distractions.

  9. Jim, I'd probably write at my desk, too, if it were bigger. That's why I write at my rather large table where I can spread out. As for my nesting chair, it's a comfortable place in the morning with a cup of coffee, and a folder where I keep blog or poetry ideas. I'm lucky that my house is surrounded by trees, shrubs and also with bird feeders close by and I don't have any drapes to hide the outside. Of course, it's not as nice as your Michigan cabin, I imagine.

  10. Great space, Gloria! Mine has evolved over the years. Sometimes, I do actually write at my desk, but most of the time, it's on the couch, or at a local cafe with my friend Julie. I never thought I could be a "multiple space" kind of girl, but a laptop and a kid has made me learn to write anywhere, even as a passenger on long-distance car rides.

  11. Wonderful blog and pictures, Gloria. And, Sarah, I'm glad to know there's a "multiple space" writer, because I fall into that category!

  12. Sarah, I didn't write until my kids were grown and gone. Maybe if I'd started earlier, I would have had to find a kid free space somewhere. I'm glad you can write anywhere.

    Paula, I have a feeling there are a lot of "multiple space" writers because it seems cafe's rate pretty high as places to write, or maybe take care of business on-line. I see a lot of that in the SF area when I visit my daughter.

  13. Thanks for giving us a peek at your writing spaces, Gloria.

    Most of my writing takes place at my desk but I usually edit seated in a comfy chair by the window. Luckily, I can write anywhere and use the time spent on the metro rail or in a doctor's waiting room to work on a story.

  14. Kara, The few times I've ridden on the metro in large cities, it seems a lot of people do that as well as on airplanes while waiting for takeoff.

    I'm not comfortable with my lap top so most of my editing and computer work is done at my desktop computer at my desk.

  15. Nice pictures of your space, Gloria. I have what I call my computer room, walls covered in SF and Fantasy art. I don't claim to have a totem, nor anything that brings on inspiration. I depend on those moments when I see something I consider odd/weird/different that I then allow to segue into something part of what I'm writing.

  16. Thanks, Pat. I would love to have a room just for my computer and writing like you have so when I entertained, I could close the door and no one would see the clutter. Like you, I look for the odd thing and consider how I can work it into my writing.

  17. Gloria, I enjoyed seeing your writing space. In mine I have a computer and desk, but the desk is for putting things on, not writing at. I write creatively and diary in my writing chair, then type. I do type letters and emails. I can write diary anywhere, but serious creative writing I need time, quiet, privacy. It can be by a river, in another country, but I need those things. Happy Writing! Judy Hogan

  18. Great idea for a post, Gloria.

    I moved last month and haven't put my inspiration totems back up yet because I haven't finished unpacking it all. What I had was:

    - scifi items on top of a tall amoire on the wall opposite my bed
    - a yellow "gremlin" with a red push pin stuck in his head (from my tech writing days) along with a few other nonsensical items on top of my large monitor.

    I like having something whimsical or nonsensical nearby that I can gaze upon while thinking, even if it's not directly related to what I'm writing.

    My best writing space (which is also my editing space) is at my desk in the early morning. My best idea space is anywhere. I can be in a crowded room or all alone, outdoors or in, and an idea will come and begin to gel. Like someone else who commented here, I will sometimes outline an entire scene while still in bed, then get up and write it.