The Ideal Writing Spot


Most author advice will tell you that you have to be able to write in any place at any time. It’s true – you won’t get very much done if you refuse to write anywhere other than your favorite spot under ideal conditions. Learning to write in random locations and tune out distractions is a big part of being able to produce good work day after day. TV in the background? No problem. People walking in and out of the room? No problem. Interrupted every few minutes by random questions? Annoying, but no problem. Your baby crying? No problem. Actually, maybe problem.  Okay fine, definitely problem.  But everything else is something you can learn (read: struggle and probably fail) to tune out.

That being said not all places were created equal. We all have an ideal writing spot, a spot where we just seem to have more energy and focus, where we can write 2,000 words in two hours that are better than the 400 we would have ended up writing anywhere else.

I have two favorite spots.


1.  A Coffee Shop. This is the place where I get the most work done. Cafes, Starbucks, whatever, coffee shops just have a different feel than anywhere else – like if I’m goofing off instead of working the barista is going to come over and dump coffee on my head. Places like these have that steady hum of work being done which is nice when you aren’t wearing headphones. They have things going on that can visually distract you, but for some reason they just don’t, or you don’t notice, or you just don’t care. And it smells great, like coffee, which always reminds me of the library. Lastly, and this might be my favorite part, there are always half a dozen people studying for the lsat, mcat, gre, law or medical school exams, anything that requires a ten inch thick textbook really, and they make you feel like your life is the easiest and happiest thing in the world by comparison.


2.  A Flagstone Patio. I’ll take a wood deck, too, but it’ll be grudgingly. Sitting on one of these at either a round glass table or in a lawn chair is great. Get some good sun when it’s nice out. You can play music on speakers or from your computer instead of wearing headphones. It’s great for relaxing and doing some work at the same time.

Unfortunately, the sad truth is that I end up doing most of my writing on a particularly comfortable couch at home. If I’m feeling ambitious I might even sit up on it. And if I want to be a real maniac I’ll sometimes sit at the table in the other room. It’s one of our versions of the great debate – write sitting up at a table to be more productive or write lying on the couch because we’re lazy. It’s amazing how much more work gets done at a table or desk.

What about you? What’s your ideal writing spot? Where do you actually end up doing most of your work? How do you deal with distractions?

25 comments on “The Ideal Writing Spot”

  1. I usually write sitting in my recliner with earbuds in my ears listening to music that fits the tone of what I’m righting at the time. My other place is on our deck late in the afternoon. If I’m outside, I listen to nature’s songs. Rural life is very loud if one listens in the evening.

  2. I can write anywhere but always struggle with noise pollution. A bit of a minor hiccup when my desk is currently in the only room with the T.V., baby monitor and on a major through fare of the house! Perhaps it will have the benefit of helping me get used to ignoring the noise?

  3. The couch is my typical spot but I have recently discovered the wonders that a change of environment can do. I think I’m that way with most things though- gotta break the monotony now and then.

  4. I have degenerative disc disease, and three hip preservation operations in the past 5 years, so it’s very painful for me to sit. I also have a shoulder injury as well, so sometimes it is painful to type. When I started writing 5 years ago (at 24 years old) my spine and shoulder were okay, so it was just my bad hips. It was easier then because I could sit in my bed with my legs stretched out. That hurts my back too much now. I would actually get a lot of writing done in the bathtub. No idea why, but it relaxed me, and helped free up my thoughts. Thankfully my shoulder injury has improved a lot, but it’s been a year and a half and it’s still not healed. So I do all of my writing in bed. Either sitting or laying down. Sometimes I have to use the microphone on my phone because my shoulder hurts too bad to type. I might feel more inspired to write in other places if it wasn’t so painful, but pain really negates my inspiration. If I need inspiration I listen to music before I write or when I take a break. I need it silent when I write.

  5. I am most productive in coffee houses. That said, I’ve learned to write almost anywhere. Sometimes, if I am doing quite a bit of research for an article, I am better off writing from my desk at home.

  6. I love cafes, too! Certain coffee shops more than others, but I’ve also written in diners and libraries. Good coffee definitely helps! That flagstone terrace is pretty gorgeous.

  7. I used to be obsessed with finding a perfect spot to write but with small house and kids I realized I better get used to writing anywhere to get some writing done. That being said, I agree on coffee shops! Steady background noise and smell of coffee are very helpful to the process. I love libraries too, but sometimes it’s too quiet in there to focus.

  8. Oddly enough, even though I tend to work better with some kind of distraction in the background, I can never seem to get much done at coffee shops, so I’ve stopped trying to write in those places (for now). For me, it doesn’t seem to be the place that helps me be productive, as much as time pressure of some kind. I tend to suddenly become productive when I have to leave for home for somewhere soon, like going to work in the morning. And scribbling in my journal is always easiest when I’m sitting in my car, just before I need to stop and go to the gym for martial arts practice.

  9. Due to the fact I can receive inspiration from anything at any given moment, I would say I can write anywhere. However, if I had to pinpoint an ideal place, that would be my desk at home. The best way for me to write in the presence of distractions, which I cannot control–headphones. If it’s your baby for example, that’s different. When that happens, it’s time to be a parent, making everything else secondary. Lol

  10. It usually depends on how I’m feeling, but if I’m up for writing an emotionally heavy scene/extract, I usually shut myself in my room, sit on my bed, put on some music, and just let it happen. That being said, I do like the feel of sitting up straight in a chair at the high counter top in my kitchen; I like the academic feel it gives me, and I like the buzz of other people walking in and out whilst I’m just in my secluded world.

  11. My sister and I like to write on the same couch. That can be difficult when we want to write at the same time, but there’s just something about this couch. I think it gives off creative energy or something.

  12. Never tried writing in a coffee shop,and outside is too hot and buggy for me. Mostly I’m at my computer desk, or on the couch. Other favorite places are waiting rooms, on an airplane, and in our truck while waiting in the drive-through! 🙂

  13. Damn, I was just going to write a blog entry about writing spots. I’ve found that I do my best work…at work, of all places, where I’m not supposed to be writing. What the hell is that about, anyway?

  14. I was just thinking about this topic yesterday! I tried out a cafe as a new writing spot and when I arrived there were a handful of open tables. After I ordered, only one table was left–and it was a bar-height table, which I hate using both for work and for fun. Two uncomfortable hours were spent there working and I was kicking myself for not just staying home and enjoying my cozy office.

    Curious why one of your top choices is outside? I always experience a terrible glare on my computer monitor when it’s in natural light. Have you found a way to minimize or eliminate that?

  15. I actually wish that I could write at a coffee shop. I just find it too distracting with people constantly coming in and out, hearing the coffee grinder, and people socializing around me. I used to try to read or study at Starbucks too, and it just never worked out. I always ended up leaving. I like to write at home on the sofa or my office desk, or pretty much anywhere that is at least semi quiet. I can ignore the television, and sometimes I can write while listening to music — depending on the music.

    I have had the cliche fantasy of someday being retired and writing from my beach house balcony with a beautiful view of the ocean, while feeling the ocean breeze against my face. Such a lovely fantasy… lol Maybe one day!

  16. “If I’m feeling ambitious I might even sit up on it.” <– this describes my life. 🙂

    I do love writing in coffee shops though. I need a level of distraction that doesn't actually require me to pay attention or stop what I'm doing, if you know what I mean. However, I have to limit my caffeine intake and expenses, so I'm trying to find a location at home that'll do for everyday. There's definitely a difference between sitting up at a table and sprawling all over the bed or couch… Inconvenient.

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