Where Does Your Writing Muse Work Best?

Lucky, lucky us. For next two months or so, Amy Finnegan will be our guest blogger. Woot woot! We’re happy about this because Amy know TONS about the writing world. And she also does lots of research for EACH blog. Here’s her little introduction: Amy Finnegan has been an event coordinator for Utah Children’s Writers and Illustrators. She was the first place winner in the children’s and young adult category of the 76th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition. She ate an entire bag of strawberry Twizzlers while writing this blog entry. Admitting that in third person POV makes her feel less guilty about it.

One Friday night a month, I stay overnight at a Hampton Inn that is less than ten minutes from where I live. I leave my husband and three kids at home, and instead take my laptop, food to last me 24 hours, a small overnight bag, and my two pillows that I can’t sleep without.

I check in at 10 AM on Friday, and get a 2 PM Saturday checkout. At some point, I sleep about 5-6 hours, but otherwise, I work, work, work.

I’m not sure why my writing muse is so comfortable in that environment, but I get more done in one day at this Hampton Inn than I do in a week or more writing elsewhere. It just works for me.

But I can’t be a truly productive writer if I only write one day a month. I need to find a way to be less distracted at home, clear my mind, and get into this same Hampton Inn zone at my own desk.

So I’m on a quest to learn what other writers do to be their most productive. Do they have a secluded office with classical/rock/reggae music playing? Inspirational books/quotes/posters around them? I’d like to find the best of the best ideas and mash them all together into an environment that helps me focus.

If you need that, too, I hope you can also learn something from the following authors who agreed to share a bit about their current workspace. I also asked what their “dream” writing environment would be like.

Jessica Day George said:
I work either sitting at the kitchen counter or at a table at the local library.  If I’m at the kitchen counter, then there are probably children running about and I’m only typing with half my concentration.  If I’m at the library, then there are probably children running about (although not my own) and I am only typing with half my concentration while I wonder when the public library became a daycare.  I would like to have my own room, with a comfy chair, and a desk for when I’m feeling tense and must sit up in a businesslike fashion.  There would be enormous bookcases full of my favorite books, and a sound system softly playing a Kennedy CD.

You can learn more about Jessica’s MG & YA novels at:

Ann Dee Ellis:
I write in bed. Always. I know this is weird and it’s even weirder when I try to write at the library or somewhere away from home and I realize I need to lay on the floor or on some couch to get into my groove. I also am terrible at writing consistently but when I do do it, it’s at night after the kids are asleep. My dream environment? I dream of waking up, having a nice breakfast. Maybe yoga or jogging. A long shower where I use a loofah or something like that. Then writing from nine to eleven. Maybe noon. I feel like I’d write beautiful things if I wrote from nine to noon. My head clear. My soul rejuvenated. The birds chirping. One day. Or not.

You can learn more about Ann Dee’s YA novels at:

Mette Ivie Harrison:
I moved recently into our “exercise room,” which includes a couch, treadmill, TV, stationary bike, lots of bookshelf space, my desk and computer, my filing cabinet, and a closet full of games and craft stuff.  I also have a window, albeit a basement one.  I suspect this is my ideal work space.  I love that it is quiet and cool, and that I have a heater to turn on to feel “cozy.”  I love that books are all around me, and that it is hard to find me, and that I can’t hear the doorbell when it rings.  The kids have to walk all the way downstairs to ask me if I want to talk to the salesperson at the door.  I don’t.  Also, there is usually plenty of chocolate there.  I write as soon as the kids are off to school, which is about 8:30.  I write for as long as I can, taking little breaks in between to break it up.  I play on the internet or get a snack and then back to the grindstone.  I take lunch at 11:30 most days, unless I’m in the zone.  Then I go back to work unless I have to do some real world stuff like shopping or appointments.  Or dishes and laundry.

You can learn more about Mette’s YA novels at:

Kristyn Crow:
My workspace is my laptop on the dining room table in the center of my house.  In other words, I don’t use an office.  There are several reasons for this.  a) From my vantage point in the dining room, I can monitor both the kitchen and the front door.  So I’m able, for example, to stop one or more of my seven kids from drinking straight from the milk carton, or from eating an enormous bowl of cereal five minutes before dinner, or from disappearing out the front door to some remote location.  You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.  b) The room I used to use as an office slowly morphed into a computer gaming zone, and I was competing against explosions, robots on the rampage, and bloodthirsty dinosaurs.  c) When I did use that room for an office, it got a little claustrophobic.  I love having a laptop because I can move around and change my scenery as I see fit.  Even if I don’t move around, the idea that I can if I want to is nice.   This year my youngest child started first grade, so I’m finally home during the day with time to write while all the children are gone. My dream writing environment would be sitting outside on a porch or balcony with a breathtaking view.  (As long as there weren’t any bugs. If there are bugs, give me the same view from a huge window in a roomy office.)

You can learn more about Kristyn’s Picture Books at:

Carol Lynch Williams:

At this moment my office is filled with boxes because we are moving in a week or two. Before that, though, it held my desk, a bookshelf, and our grand piano. I LOVE to write when my daughter (yes, our Kyra) practices her classical pieces. I do have a dream office in mind, though. It would be huge–large enough for all my girls to settle in with me. And there would be wall-space enough in the room to hold all my books. Finally, it would stay clean. And there would be a comfy chair for me to read in–though I’m not sure I would ever read there.

You could learn more about Carol’s books if she would ever update her website and make it look professional.

So, writers, what is your own workspace like? What would be your dream writing environment?

Tips I found online (some of the best are in the reader comment sections):






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11 responses to “Where Does Your Writing Muse Work Best?

  1. Amy Finnegan


    FYI, readers, my little blog was trolled 🙂

    Carol was the one who wrote “You could learn more about Carol’s books if she would ever update her website and make it look professional” not ME.

    The bum (yes, my dear friend, you are a bum! But a bum I love).


  2. I write at my desk in my tiny apartment room (which is actually bigger than the other rooms in my apartment…) which I share with my friend Kait. It is a terrible place to write. And I only ever get anything done if I decide that I will not stop for anyting or anyone and I put on my headphones and listen to my Lifehouse station on pandora.com. I do not know why I must listen to the Lifehouse station. I”ve tried others, but I think that the Lifehouse one provides some kind of beat that keeps me on track and I can also tune out most of it so it isn’t distracting. I”m usually kind of a jerk when I’m writing on my computer. I refuse to talk to my roommates, or to acknowledge their existence in any way. Yeah…

    But that is only when I am writing on my computer, which is usually re-writing or assignments for school. I write my best stuff on paper with a pen. If I try writing on the computer I usually end up staring at a a blinking cursor, typing some words, deleting the words, staring some more, feeling frustrated that nothing I type is good, and getting distracted by email or blogs or googling random things I want to learn about.

    My ideal writing spot is in a comfy chair on a nice big porch with a nice view of trees and grass and really anything but Gold’s Gym would be nice because that’s all I got right now. I would be writing in a spiral notebook with paper that I could tear out if I wanted, even though I usually don’t want to, because it makes me feel less restricted. I’d also have a really nice black pen. And bugs are okay with me. I like bugs.

  3. Like TA I love Writing on paper (spiral notebook) with a Pencil. Strange. I just love the feel of it, but I get far more done if I’m at my computer. When I’ve accomplished the most (best?) writing I was in a room with a view of my red-bud tree–which got crushed by a falling oak tree about 4 years ago. In the spring the branches floated close to the window and I felt exhilarated by their pink (not red, sorry) blossoms. I can’t help loving spring it stokes me!

    I would sit for 10 to 14 hours a day with a huge cup of ice water (refilled when empty) and only take potty breaks when absolutely necessary. I would not eat until supper. (I lost about 30 pounds in six months that way. And I needed to!) The room had lots of books, a nice desk, lots of writing materials–papers, pens, pencils–and music. I found that if I could identify a music CD or particular song with my story or one of the main characters therein, it helped bunches to have it playing even if I really didn’t listen to it.

    Now, it’s not ideal. Usually I only have nights when most everyone is asleep and I write a little–mostly editing previously written stuff.

    I long for the quiet days in a room with a view of flowers and sunshine and good music playing softly in the background where I can sit at my computer and just write for hours on end. Fantasy, yes. But a nice fantasy.

  4. Me. My laptop is on my kitchen table. I rarely move it. The stupid power cord has a temper and serious issues. Yes, we eat dinner at the table. Luckily the table is big enough to push the computer to a corner.

    This also puts me in view of all the action. Except when they go upstairs to the game room. But for some reason they like to be RIGHT NEXT TO ME. Or on me. Or hanging all over me. But I tell myself one day I will miss that. I think. So I suck down the anxiety and clostraphobia and smile and kiss away.

    Wait, what was this about? Where I write? In the dining room where I can look out the big windows of my breakfast nook and see the green. Watch my raspberries and strawberries and blackberries and cherries and such grow. And dang my grass is green. Probably because I double layer the weed n feed.

    I put on headphones and find music that matches the mood of what I’m writing. I suggest soundtracks. They pick songs specifically for mood.

    My writing seems to follow the pattern of feast and famine. And right now I’m not sure I’m making sense on this comment. My head is a little loopy. Pain medication does strange things. Wow, I’m spinny. Did I say that?

  5. Amy Finnegan

    Tiffany – Lifehouse! 🙂 🙂 🙂 We should be best friends. I love, love them. I often listen to them when I’m writing, too.

    A lot of these writing environments have something in common: a family to care for, watch, keep happy, etc. Gives me an idea for another blog.

    I wish so bad that I could write with pencil and paper – my fingers do the thinking, it seems, rather than my brain. So without my laptop, I’m pretty much worthless (not saying I’m all that great WITH it, but much better, I assure you.)

    Thanks for everyone’s comments – I’m loving all these ideas, and “dream” ideas. Keep them coming 🙂

  6. Yay! A published author and I have a our favorite writing place in common (the bed).

    This weekend I am going out of town (a whole hour out of town in the mountains where it’s supposed to snow. Grr…) by myself so I can have quiet time to write. My husband is invited up for Saturday night, but Friday night and all-day Saturday are MINE! Woo-hoo!

  7. Writing keeps me warm in my cold, cold basement apartment. Really it’s just my thighs that are warm, because my computer is on my lap. My feet stay cold because I prop them up on our coffee table. Cold and slightly stiff from the hard table. And my arms are kinked at weird angles half the time when I write because I’m trying to bend around my 3-month-old who’s laying in my lap eating. Then she’s the one keeping my thighs warm and the computer’s keeping my knees warm.
    When I’m not writing like that, I’m on the floor next to her, pretending that I’m giving her all of my attention as I sit there cross-legged with the laptop on the floor, trying to write a chapter and hold a rattle at the same time. She’s too observant for my own good though, because she can always tell when I’m more interested in the screen than her.

    In my perfect writing world, I’d have a desk. MY desk. Where nobody else can gunk it up or sit in my comfy chair. The desk would be under a window with a lovely view. I don’t care what the view is just as long as it’s lovely. It’d probably be on the second storey. And the room would have lots of light.
    And I’d have time to sit down and write my little heart out for a few solid hours, without interruption. No cute little gurgles and baby snorts to distract me.

  8. Most of my writing happens during the baby’s nap or after everyone goes to bed. I homeschool my kids, so during naptime, we all have quiet ROW to Know, which is an acronym I made up for Reading or Writing to Know. I work on the computer in the family room, while my 6 and 4 year olds choose what to read, write, or listen to on CD with headphones. It’s working very well. We do it for at least an hour a day, and I write whether I feel inspired or not.

    Honestly, I think this is my ideal. My little chicks are all around and I know what they are doing, but it is quiet enough to concentrate.

  9. Amy Finnegan

    Thank you, everyone, for all the great comments!

    It’s (almost) funny that most of us have to find ways to write amid chaos because it’s nearly impossible to escape it 🙂

    Maui, anyone? With a full-time nanny/chef/housekeeper, of course!


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