The Place You Write

Bulletinboard I write in my upstairs office which is a converted bedroom.  As I'm writing this post, rain is pounding on the windows and if I turn my head and look out the window, I can see into the backyard, which is lush and green and full of just-blossoming flowers.  At least they were ready to blossom before this massive rainstorm came in last night.

This office is the place where I most often write.  It is actually the place I spend most of my time.

I started thinking about what my office means to me because I've inadvertently been writing a series on place.  It began with a post last week on having a place to go in your writing.  Meaning, that you leave off in a place that will give you an easy starting point at your next writing session.  And then I wrote a post about the role of place in your writing.  What settings inspire you?  What locations do you set your characters in?

And so today it seems fitting to end this mini-series with a post on where you actually perform the magic.  I also recently wrote a post about organizing my office, which those of you who come here often know has been a long, drawn out process, mainly because I only find an hour here and there to work on it.  So my writing place is in transition at the moment.  When I return from Nashville mid-month, I'll be buying a complete new office set from Ikea, for which I can't wait. 

But even in its current almost-organized state, it is the place I love best.  And I loved it when it was terribly messy, too.  I love it because it is all me–my books, my supplies, my furniture choices, my weird things hanging on the wall, my bulletin board covered with nametags from conferences and old artwork the kids did  years ago.  I'm surrounded by my reference materials, including binders full of old stories that I've written and a shelf of my published books and magazine articles, and I love working in the midst of the fruits of my labors.

I haven't always had a room of my own in which to write.  I started out using a big old desk that came from my father's printing plant.  It was set up in the corner of our bedroom, and how we fit it in there, I don't know.  Then I set up a desk in a makeshift corner of the then-unfinished upstairs.  When a fire swept the second floor, it miraculously stopped just short of my office, meaning all my computer and all my old writing journals were spared.  (Though the cleaning crew who swept in to rid the house of the smell of smoke took every journal and wiped down every page.)

When we moved back in after the fire, I set up in a spare bedroom downstairs.  I loved that space, but my son claimed it for his bedroom.  So when my daughter went away to college, I claimed her upstairs bedroom, which I continue in to this day.  And even though I have a laptop and can write anywhere, I spend most days ensconced up here.  Sometimes I take my computer and hit the neighborhood coffee shop and upon occasion I go downstairs to the family room or the kitchen for a change of venue.  But most often I'm right here at my old desk, which is soon to be replaced by a new one. 

You don't have to to have a room of your own to write.  It is nice, that's for sure, and you deserve one.  But you don't have to have one.  Back in the day when my desk was in the bedroom, I often hauled the typewriter out to the kitchen table to write so I could keep a better eye on the kids.  But what you do need is at least a little bit of space to call your own, even if it is a cupboard that you store your papers and computer in and close up when it is not in use.  

So what about you?  Where do you write?  Do you like writing there or do you long for a different space?  Do you do your best writing at home, on a break from work, or at Starbucks?  I'd love to hear about the place you write.

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13 Comments on "The Place You Write"

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Jeffrey Tang
Guest
03/29/2010 10:47

This is a beautiful post, Charlotte. In fact, I could easily imagine it turned into a beautiful short story about the spaces we inhabit and work in and move through, and what they mean to us. If the idea doesn’t appeal to you, might I have permission to try?

I’m … in between writing spaces at the moment. Some days I prefer to sit in the study/sunroom and write; other days I find being at home stuffy and distracting, so I venture out to a cafe or bookstore or restaurant. My preferred writing space changes with my mood.

Belinda Munoz + The Halfway Point
Guest

A joy to read, Charlotte. I mostly write sitting in a cross legged yoga pose, laptop in the triangle of my lap. It’s a great space to be in. Hours go by in this thinking/meditating pose. Sometimes I have a cup of green tea on the night stand to my right. Other times my 3-year old will walk in. I easily set the laptop aside, grab my boy, and put him where the laptop sat.

Jessica
Guest
03/29/2010 18:41

My favourite writing place is at my desk in my room. However, tomorrow I set out on my travels so hopefully I will find many more places that are equally conducive.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/29/2010 20:37

Jeffrey, I love the idea of turning this post into a short story, but you thought of it, so its all yours! Just check back and let us know how it is going.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/29/2010 20:42

Hi Belinda, Love this description of you sitting cross-legged with the laptop on your lap…and then putting your little boy there instead. Wonderful!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/29/2010 20:43

Oh Jessica, safe journeys! Hope you can check in once in awhile! And I bet you’ll find all kinds of interesting places to write!

Angela Artemis
Guest
03/30/2010 06:33

Charlotte, I loved this post. It reminded me of a collage I made years ago with photos torn from magazines that I glued to poster board. On it I put pictures of the things I wanted in my life – and one of them was a representation of working from home, and another a lovely view. I now have both of these in my life. I feel so blessed to work from my dining room table and look out over my little green patch of heaven.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/30/2010 10:42

Hi Angela, Glad you liked it. And I love your description of your little patch of green heaven. Funny you should mention it–I’ve got a stack of magazines and a large piece of cardboard saved on which to design a vision board. It is very inspiring that you made one years ago and you have so much of what you put on it.

DYoung
Guest
03/31/2010 05:28
I’m stuck in the basement den. Which also serves as a family (tv) room. It is a walk thru open room to which you can access the back door, laundry room, storage and garage. It can be a major hub-bub of activity. When the kids are home. But that’s good. I’m big on keeping family communication open. Especially while raising one teen girl and one tween boy. When the kids are in school, it is a peaceful area. I’ve been fortunate enough to turn this little corner of the chaos into my one stop area for doing bills, facebooking, homework,… Read more »
Roy
Guest
03/31/2010 07:43

Nice post Charlotte. You inspired me to steal some of your good vibes and write a similar post of my own. I gave you a cross link and credit for the original idea. 🙂 Please repost a new image and write a new blog entry once the new furniture arrives so we can all see the BEFORE and AFTER! Later, Roy

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/31/2010 09:12

D’Young, I wrote with the kids swarming about me for many years and I swear once they moved out it took me awhile to get used to the quiet. I love your image of writing on the deck–sounds wonderful!

Roy, I’ll go check out your post, and yes I will indeed post pictures when I’ve got the new office furniture. Won’t be until after I get home from Nashville, though.

rebecca
Guest
05/27/2010 09:22

I write in my bedroom, a large master bedroom, with a great window to look out from. My daughter’s room remains empty for almost a year since she moved out which will become my office, but I’m afraid to move in there, feeling that she may want to move back home.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
05/27/2010 09:31

Rebecca, After my daughter left for college, I kept her room the same, too, mostly at her insistence. She wanted to feel like she still had a place to come home to and I couldn’t blame her. But today it is her ex-room that I work in. It is on the second floor, above the backyard, and from the window I can see the ever-expanding kiwi and other greenery, making it a bit like a greenhouse.

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