The Chicago Tribune recently featured five writers talking about where they write, what their routine is, the equipment they use, and why their writing space is ideal. Oscar Hijuelos and Wally Lamb both mention the importance of proximity to water. Lamb also talks about the importance of “good-luck tchotchkes” and jumping jacks. Jodi Picoult also needs water, but the kind that comes in a bottle. Tayari Jones only uses yellow legal pads with “really sharp pencils,” but understands the importance of being adaptable. Elin Hilderbrand rides her bike to the beach to write during the summer and uses a friend’s library during the colder months.
In preparation for some future newspaper article taking in interest in my setting and routine, here are my answers to what the five writers described:
Setting: My home office is an awesome writing space, but works best for revisions. I tend to get sidetracked by email and social media when I’m there, so when I’m cranking out first drafts I prefer to sit on the couch in the living room or in a coffee house somewhere. That way I can just pound out the words and worry about research and fact-checking later.
Routine: An ideal writing day is basically just getting in some hours of solid prose. I’m a binge writer and do much better with long open-ended periods of writing. If I know I only have an hour or two to write, I end up just messing around and doing a lot of “research” (i.e. email, random Google searches, and Facebook).
Equipment: Always on the computer. I might outline a piece using long-hand, but I rarely use pen and paper for anything else.
Why the space is ideal: The office is ideal because it’s my space. Nobody else comes there so I can leave a project in the middle and make the space as messy as I’d like. When we first moved in together, my husband (then boyfriend) and I shared a desk. I hated the extra time it took to pull all my stuff out and put it away again. We then graduated to sharing an office, but separate desks. Now we actually have separate offices, which feels very luxurious.
Where and how do you like to work?