Do You Need the Ideal Time and Place to #Write?

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?
The Ginger House Petaluma, A.K. Andrew,

The Ginger House, Petaluma by A.K. Andrew

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?
English: Street scene of Peru, Indiana, birthp...A.K. Andrew,

English: Street scene of Peru, Indiana, birthplace of songwriter Cole Porter. Image courtesy of the Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. Retouched by MarmadukePercy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 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? 

Come join the discussion, and please share this post on your favorite social media. 

Many Thanks!

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  1. I agree, the requirements of different writes can vary. If you ask me I would say I can write sitting at any place but I need little peace. Music may be preferred but no person should talk when I write.

    Glad you asked the question!
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  2. I write next to a window overlooking the ravine behind my house – generally late in the afternoon (if my cat allows me!) I couldn’t write in a noisy coffee shop because I’d be too curious about the people around me! Jan

  3. Rather than trying to be in, or set up, the perfect environment for writing, I’d rather write when the mood strikes me, wherever that may be. Sometimes when I try to set a time and a mood and a place it just seems too forced and the words don’t flow.

  4. I make every attempt to write, revise, or edit my own work in the morning. When I don’t, countless other distractions will get in the way. If I only waited for inspiration, I would never get anything down on paper, though I do like to engage in other creative tasks to spark my writing like photography or painting furniture (yes, furniture!). Teaching taught me life is a lot about balance, so I do my best to end my working day before dinner time. When I don’t, I get grumpy and it seeps into all other areas of my life. As for noise, I am a “shiny object” type of person, so eliminate as many distractions as possible and write at my desk and nowhere else. Coffee shops and other public spaces make it hard to focus. Fun topic today for us obsessive compulsive types who think about writing as much as they actually write 😉
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    • Good for you Jeri making writing part of your daily routine. I think I still feel I need I have to ‘earn’ the right to write by getting in some chore related things first- and I suppose it goes along with where ones peak energy time of day is too. But I’m sure yours is a more productive approach. I find with music, that it can be good, but it often has some emotional connotation so I might let myself go down a path which is not necessarily what the focus of my work is. But I do find if I’m trying to get in the zone for a particular era it’s fantastic. Happy to hear I’m appealing to someone else who thinks about the process as much as actually writing!!!
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  5. Due dates make me write. And if not a due date kind of month, then, as soon as an idea comes to mind. That’s when I write. It could be any time of day or night.

    Where I write is at my desk in my home office. My room is a beautiful blue with fun patterned window treatments – hot air balloons. On sunny days like today I have gorgeous sunlight streaming in my front windows.

    It’s funny that you mentioned the environment of sound. My preference is either silence or usually classical, spa or uplifting praise music, playing lightly. But when my husband comes home and cranks up his music, heaven forbid I might be writing then! Even though I’m in a different part of the house, he plays his music so loud, I have to close the doors so I can just tolerate it. Awful.
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    • Due dates are a good incentive, and in some ways for fiction writers, entering competitions definitely ticks this box. How fantastic that you described your room Pat – lovely to hear where you work! And yes other people’s noise can be very intrusive, especially when , as you describe it, it’s the antithesis of yours! Thanks so much for stopping by:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

  6. I am a creature of habits. I find I work best when I am able to set in certain rituals and habits in preparation for the work I do. I have a session generally around the time I first get up. This is the first practice session of the day. In this I tend to get anywhere from 500 to 1000 words of basically anything. It serves no other purpose than to clear my mind. This session is always done no matter what.

    I have another session before I get into actual work. This happens later in the day (I tend to be a night time writer). This one is a timed session of about 5 minutes. I power through with a mental cleanse before I come to the work I need to get done.

    My last bit is the actual work. This can go anywhere from 500 to 2000 words, depending on what I am working on.

    I am able to work just about anywhere as long as I work within that order. I do prefer to have music playing while working. I have even taken to setting up playlists for the different work I am doing (for the horror and macabre stories this month I have a Halloween mix of metal and grunge that fits the mood).

    There are times I have to get out and write somewhere other than my house. Changing the scenery helps to break up stagnation in my brain when I can’t get words to flow. But it all comes back to the rituals. If I skip a step I can get locked pretty easy. The main thing is they set my mind up to know when it is time to get to work.
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    • This explains why you are so prolific Jon – creatures of habit I think do tend to be productive and you are. I like the term ‘cleanse you mind’ in relation to this. I’m a big believer in ferreting and think you can mine a whole bunch of subconscious stuff that wouldn’t otherwise get touched. But what a great idea to have play lists for different types of works. Thanks for the advice, and for stopping by:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

  7. I am a morning person. That’s my best time to write. Distractions are definitely an issue for me. Since I am a morning person many other things tend to take priority and the next thing I know, no writing has been done. Big sigh… I also have a day job so those mornings set aside for writing tend be on weekends.
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  8. I love to write late at night when the world has gone to sleep. The house is quiet, the phone does not ring and there are no interruptions. I tuck myself away in my home office, with the door shut so the light doesn’t bother anyone else in the house and I work comfortably for hours. I write during the day and I do enjoy the local coffeehouse when I’m doing a draft (a hold over from my Nanowrimo training), but late at night is the best.
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    • I can certainly see the attraction of nighttime writing, and I do like it myself for flash fiction or just writing in short spurts or jotting down ideas. But sounds like you have a good mix going on with coffee shops too. Thanks so much for stopping by Wendy:-)
      A.K. Andrew recently posted..#Muse media #Annie Proulx on LoveMy Profile

  9. Lovely post, A.K. I write at my computer but I’ve tried writing at Starbuck’s when I’m away and I find the noise distracting. I also can’t write with music on. I find it distracting. I have a friend, however, who always writes with music playing and can’t do without it. To each her own!
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    • I think we do all have our needs when it comes to working. I suppose it’s similar to people who have messy desks and others who don’t have a paperclip out of place. But I like to “force’ myself into new environments sometimes to give them a whirl. Sometimes it shakes something loose in the creative department, and other times I swear never again! Thanks so much for your comment Jeanette. Good to see you;-)
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  10. Hi, A.K.,
    Fascinating to hear how different individuals organize and shape their writing lives. I once went on a writing retreat in southern Alberta. It was winter and the location was cozy, with each of us having our own tiny cabin. We met at meal times; the rest of the time we wrote, wrote, wrote. Well, most of us did. I mistakenly divulged to someone that in my day job I was a clergy person. That person being a compassionate soul, when she learned one of the staff people had a serious problem, sent the person over to my cabin. I was not someone who could say, look already, I’m on my off-time.
    Back home I had a daugher of four whose whole life seemed devoted to following me wherever I went. She was not like her brother who loved to do activities alone and for a long time. She was keen on television only as long as someone would do it with her. In our spare room I created a little desk for her and set it next to mine. I gave her something to “write” on. Then I jumped in my chair and wrote as fast as I could. After about 20 minutes she was finished. I would jump up and find a colouring book or something else that might occupy her. In this way I might get an hour or two writing each day. I felt dreadfully selfish and wonderfully sneaky.
    You just have to go with where you are and what you can devise. Not only is our writing creative. Our managing to write has to be creative too.

    • Hi Kathleen -good to see you!! People really do have their own method & madness about how they write:-) Your Alberta story is a good one – what could you do after all? And as for your daughter, that was a brilliant way of working in your own writing as well as her learning a good habit from the start – both for “writing” and coloring. Sounds like a great combination. I hope your own current writing is going well and you are having good sales for your novel. Thanks so much for stopping by with your comment:-)
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