Do writers need an ideal time and place to write? Is it the right time or place that gets you going? We all have our different routines and rituals when it comes to writing, so there is no right or wrong answer here. That said, some writers feel the reason they are not more successful in their work is because they are constantly fighting an uphill battle in seeking out an ideal time or place to write. Let’s look at the different factors involved.
Where do you most like to write?
Where you most like to write will be different for everyone. I think place can both influence and be influenced by what we are writing. Many people talk about the ideal being the ability to go on a writer’s retreat – whole days of doing nothing but write, often in a country setting which may or may not include other writers , depending on the situation.
That sounds great, and it may work for some people. Personally I like the comforts of home, and I’m fortunate enough to have quiet if I need it, or at least an uninterrupted space. I like to work in an easy chair, or even propped up in bed with pillows. That said, I also enjoy being in a cafe having the buzz of people around me, which doubtless drifts into my subconscious and effects what I write.
It’s nice to be able to put yourself in an environment where you can completely accept all the unconscious stuff that comes to you from your inner workings of your mind. And block yourself off to where you can control it all, take it down… Bob Dylan
What time is it? Are You a Morning Person?
In “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”, Haruki Murakami tells us that he starts working at six, and his best writing time is early morning. But he is very clear on noting that his most fruitful time is when he’s finished writing and he goes out into the world.
We all have different circadian rhythms which determine the sleep and feeding patterns of animals, including human beings. There are also clear patterns of core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other biological activities. In short, with regard to writing, we all are at our most productive at different times of the day. So it makes sense that if we had no other commitments, we would have a time of day that we work best. Of course, many writers have day jobs which interfere with that lovely theory, and have to squeeze in an hour in the morning or perhaps after the kids have been put to bed, if there is any energy left. I generally think of myself as a morning person, but in truth I do most of my writing in the afternoon, in part because I consider it a reward for the chores of daily living that need to be done.
Sounds of Silence or the Sound of Music?
We all have different needs when it comes to sounds, and I think just like place, ambient sound can effect how we work and the work itself. This post was prompted by Maria Popova at Brainpickings.org when she was discussing Robert Kellog’s book, The Psychology of Writing.
“The lack of interruption in trains of thought may be the critical ingredient in an environment that enables creative flow. As long as a writer can tune out background noise, the decibel level per se may be unimportant. For some writers, the dripping of a faucet may be more disruptive than the bustle of a cafe in the heart of a city.” The Psychology of Writing (public library) by Robert T. Kellogg
Some people find music is essential, whereas other people like to write in silence. I’ve experimented with both, and discovered that for me it depends on what I’m working on. When I was writing my first novel set in WWII, then I listened to 40’s jazz or “Trio Lescano” an Italian trio similar to The Andrew Sisters. Cole porter was another favourite. It was particularly important as music played an key role for both the protagonist and the antagonist. Much of the time though, I write in silence, or I find if someone else is in the room listening to the radio or the TV, it doesn’t bother me either way.
Do You Need The Ideal Time and Place To Write?
I feel the important thing is to not worry too much about the situation being ideal. Life doesn’t always work like that. So make the most of whatever time and place you have. Whenever I have to frequent a waiting room whether it be at the airport, hospital or the mechanic’s, I like to have a notebook, or at least a phone to take notes, or actually write sections. I find these situations more conducive to planning, or changing a plot point, or how a scene ending might change. But the actual work is possible too.
Some people are able to create an ideal time and place to write on a regular basis. Fabulous if you can, but I think unrealistic for many of us. But it’s good to notice what we do like in terms of time and place for our work. Sometimes even a small adjustment might lead to more productivity. After all, writing should be enjoyable shouldn’t it? Ok , so it’s sometimes just hard work that needs to get done, but why not make the most of it while we’re there?
Where do you like to write, and what is your best time of day? Do you write with music, if so what really get’s your muse going?
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