Writing Spaces, Rituals, and Other Habits

Writing Space banner 2

Ahhhh… Isn’t that a lovely view? Sometimes I think the beach would be my writing space paradise. Other times, I know I’d be so distracted by its beauty that I’d be better off indoors. But one can always dream, right?

Today I’m sharing tidbits about my real writing space, from my current “Draft #3 Central” to rituals and other habits when working on my WIP. This topic was inspired by recent posts by Jessica Matteliano and Rae Oestreich. In fact, I’m sort of copying Jessica’s format, which was based on questions from a recent #Storycrafter Twitter chat led by Faye Kirwin of Writerology. (Hope you don’t mind, Jessica. *winks*)

Curiousity piqued? Then let’s dive in!

Question #1: Do you have a designated writing space? Or, do you write in different spots?

Oddly enough, my writing space has changed with each draft. When I was drafting my WIP, I went back and forth between my desk and the “comfy chair” in my bedroom. Then for Draft #2, the comfy chair became my favorite spot. And now, for Draft #3, I’ve relocated to my dining room table. It allows me to spread out more than at my desk (which is small and cramped), and to keep my chapter printouts and any reference books or “documents” within arm’s reach.

Question #2: Does your writing space have to be set up a certain way? Or, are you not fussed?

I don’t fuss over it too much. As long as my chapter printouts, reference documents, and any additional notes, I’m all set. But I do have pre-writing rituals for when I’m at home:

  • Burning a candle with a scent or color that matches the current scene or chapter’s mood.
  • A cup of tea, for hydration. This is the only ritual I keep when I’m writing away from home.
  • Wearing my watermelon tourmaline pendant, since it seems to help with my creative writing.
  • Making sure my owl figurine Wesley is nearby. (You’ll see a picture of him shortly.)

Question #3: Have you ever tried writing anywhere different than usual? How did you find it?

I’ve tried writing in a few other places. Here’s what I remember, and how each turned out:

  • Cafes / Coffee Shops: Too nosy and busy for my tastes. I tried it mostly for the experience, especially since I know other writers who love writing at coffee shops.
  • Hotel Rooms: This has worked out well when I’ve traveled, like for Writer’s Digest Conference. I had the room to myself; and after getting a tea from Starbucks, I plugged in and was ready to go!
  • On a Train: When traveling between Providence and NYC for Writer’s Digest Conference, I used the 3+ hour train rides to my WIP’s advantage. And it wasn’t too bad! The jostling of train cars and the chatter of other passengers distracted me a little – and I admit I was afraid of falling so deep in concentration that I’d miss my stations! But it was a good experience, for both last year’s trip and this year’s.

Question #4: Do you need your writing space to be silent? Or, do you prefer sound / music?

Yes to the music! There have been times when I’ll turn it off because I’m having trouble focusing. But the right piece of instrumental music will help me focus on the chapter or scene at hand and steep myself in the appropriate mood.

For my WIP, I’ve listened to songs from film scores such as Lord of the RingsThe Hobbit, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. If you’d like to read more about those soundtracks and why I chose them, check out this blog post from May. But for example’s sake, here’s a track that I listened to recently while editing my WIP.

Question #5: What does your dream writing space look like?

Ohhhhhhh I’d love to have an entire OFFICE where I can write! With a bigger desk (at least bigger than my current one) for my laptop, penholder, spread of reference documents, and spots for a candle and my teacup. I’d also like to have a corner comfy chair, a window that lets in lots of natural light, and bookshelves for binders of my drafts and related “appendices” (world-building, character profiles, etc.), craft and reference books, and regular reading books. And a door, so that when it’s closed, people will know that I don’t want to be disturbed. 😉  It doesn’t need to be a huge room; just the right size to accommodate my needs.

Question #6: Share a picture of your writing space(s)!

TKC D3 Day 1_1

Ta-da! I took this picture on Day 1 of Draft #3. It still looks this way now, though some things are sitting in different spots.

By the way, that’s Wesley to the right. My mother gave him to me as a gift a couple years ago, after I’d read Stacey O’Brien’s memoir Wesley The Owl and couldn’t stop talking about it. (Slightly off-topic: I highly recommend Wesley The Owl if you love owls or enjoy reading about animal-human relationships.) So, my Wesley is named after the real-life owl – and yes, it’s a him. (*lol*)

How about you? What’s your favorite writing spot? Do you have any writing rituals, or have your space set up in a particular way? Feel free to answer the other questions in your comments, too – or, better yet, write your own post about it! I’d love to read about it. 🙂

NOTE: A larger version of the banner’s original image appears here

40 thoughts on “Writing Spaces, Rituals, and Other Habits

  1. I always switch places too, going from bedroom to livingroom and back, from table to bed to chairs to sofas…
    However, there are two mandatory things before I start: (1) Everything has to be tidy, otherwise it will bother me all the time, and (2) Some sort of background noise (preferably TV on).

    Love the post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alex! Trying different or new places to write can be a good thing, especially since certain spots might help us “write better” or be more in the flow during different scenes, different drafts, and so on. Plus, you never know when you might have to chance your writing space for the short term – or permanently. One of my fellow DIY MFA writers is converting her office into a nursery for her new baby, so she’s moving her writing desk to her living room, for lack of other places to go.

      Is there any particular TV show you like to put on for background noise? Or does that not matter too much?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hey! That’s me! 🙂
        I was just going to reply that I appreciate the idea of habit and ritual more, now that I don’t have an undisturbed writing space. Since I’ve had to move my desk to the dining room/family room area, timing has become even more crucial, and I’m grateful for my “desk decor” of crayons, mini typewriter and map of old New York to help me get in the mood.
        I’ve never used candles or tea, but that’s a nice idea. I do have my under-desk elliptical that helps me combine writing with exercise, and that provides a little extra motivation to get started and keep my butt in the chair. It’s hard to get up when you’re in the middle of a “workout!”

        Liked by 1 person

      • *blushes* I should have included a link to your article, too, Leanne, simply because you posted it right around the time I was contemplating doing this post.

        Wow, an under-desk elliptical… How does that work? Is it shorter than a regular desk so it fits underneath? Or do you have one of those standing workstations at home? I’ve never seen one before, so that’s why I’m curious.

        I’m glad to hear that your new writing space is working out for the most part. And I’m sure it’s been an adjustment, too, but I knew you’d find a way to make it work. How many weeks do you have until Baby #2 is due?


  2. Thank you for sharing, Sara. I feel I’ve got to know you very well, so it’s lovely to see where you write:)). It’s a nice post and I might well pinch it and write a short article about my writing nook… Which is in the corner of the lounge. Himself is wonderful at putting on headphones if he wants to watch TV and I prefer to write to music, but obviously if the grandchildren are staying or someone else is in the room watching TV that can’t happen. However (obviously) I don’t require it to be quiet or particularly peaceful in order to write and as I mostly use my desktop, I’m tethered to one spot. Though on occasion I do write on the train or in hotel rooms if I’m away using a very heavy, elderly laptop that still works a treat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Sarah! And thanks for commenting. 🙂

      I’d love to read a post about your writing nook! Feel free to answer the same questions or put your own spin on this. 🙂

      I envy anyone who can write with background noise other than music. Somehow I find the TV or voices too distracting, as if part of me wants to eavesdrop on the conversation. *blushes*

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I can’t write if the TV is rabbiting away in the corner, but Himself is awesome enough to sit with the headphones on watching it, if I need to continue working. And I can only write books reviews and process emails when the grandchildren are racketing around the place – the serious writing has to take place once they’ve gone to bed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, I wish I could write on the beach but in all realities I would be too busy running into the ocean and being a mermaid 😉

    I tend to write in the same spot, just at my little corner desk with my way-to-big writing chair. It faces the wall, so I don’t have a chance to get distracted looking out the window or at my bed, ha. However, for NaNoWriMo I will probably drape a blanket over my comfy chair and create another little cave, like I did last year.

    I really like writing in the coffee shop, even though it can be loud and people clearly don’t mind that I’m writing and carry on conversations feet away from me 😉 It’s the peanut butter mochas I really like. XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahahaha, it’s so hard to not enjoy the beauties of the beach, right? I know I’d be tempted to walk in and out of the surf and pick up any shells that catch my eye.

      Awww, I like your writing space. Nice and simple; that’s all we need sometimes. And I love the NaNo comfy chair idea. What does your comfy chair look like? Mine is a papasan swivel rocker from Pier 1 (https://www.pier1.com/swivel-rocker—brown/2331390.html).

      Oh my goodness. I’ve never had a peanut butter mocha before… but… Mmmmmmmmmm.

      Thanks for commenting, Jeneca!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you! My comfy chair is this lime green (okay, more like a puke green XD) corduroy chair that we got at a thrift shop covered in cat hair. It’s an oddball, but fits my space. Your chair looks amazing o_o
        And yes, PB mochas are really nice. It’s super popular at my local coffee shop.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I still think Wesley is adorable! ❤
    As for my own writing area, as long as I have my laptop, I can sit just about anywhere and write/revise (providing where I am isn't too noisy), or if I need a break from that, switch to my desktop computer, where our two cats enjoy keeping me company. 🙂 I think because I grew up traveling and on-the-move, I tend to be mobile with my writing space.
    But the "Dream writing space" you mentioned would be fantastic! I'd love to have that too. I would also add potted plants and vines about the room and make the place feel almost like I'm in a secret place in the forest. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t he?? 😀 I had a random idea last night that I should start taking photos of him “getting involved” in parts of my writing process, then sharing them on Twitter. It might be fun… but I’m not sure if anyone else would be interested?

      Being flexible with your writing space is a good thing, IMO. Those spaces are bound to change throughout our lives, so it’s good that you’ve already learned how to be adaptable.

      Oooh, that’s a good idea! Plants, flowers, or potted greenery of some kind. 🙂 I bet I could find a spot on my dream writing desk for an orchid plant.

      What are your favorite flowers and/or plants, out of curiosity? (Wait. Don’t answer that here. Could you add it to your list of blogoversary interview questions? XD Sorry!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s cool hearing more about your writing space! I find coffee shops too noisy too. XD I tried them for the same reason. I prefer writing at my desk which is quite large. It was a spontaneous present and I love it. I need to burn candles that fit my scenes. That’s such a good idea! Stealing. XD I usually just burn a random candle, but I have so many different kinds I need to burn ones that are more fitting. So doing that when drafting my next book.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. While I don’t really write as much anymore, I follow a lot of the same rituals you do when I’m studying! I usually have to have music playing although if I can’t focus I turn it off. Like you, I avoid coffee shops because they are too noisy and I have a habit of always getting distracted when someone opens/closes the door. Have you tried the library? I get pretty productive there. Wesley is too cute!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! I can see how those habits would work well for studying, too. And tbh, I’ve never considered writing at a library to write because I live by myself… But I’ve considered once or twice to take the train into Boston and write at the Boston Public Library for the day, since it’s such a magical, historical place.

      Btw, Wesley says “thank you.” 😉


  7. I might just make a post on my blog about this!
    I love the look of your writing space. So homey. So inspiring. And your choice of music is superb! Movie soundtracks are always great — I find I get easily distracted when listening to music with lyrics, because I keep wanting to sing along.
    I love Wesley 🙂 Owls are one of my favourite animals!
    I’m glad you shared this with us 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Please do! I love reading about other writers’ writing spaces. 😉

      Thanks for your compliments, Faith. The dining room table had really worked out well for this draft. Though it does mean that when company comes over, EVERYTHING has to be moved temporarily. *lol* (FYI: I usually eat in my living room.)

      Everyone seems to love Wesley! I kind of want to incorporate the little guy into more of my photos and other social media things… but I’m not sure that would seem silly? Maybe the best way to find out is by sharing a photo of him on Twitter and asking for people’s thoughts on that?

      Btw, do you listen to movie soundtracks when you write or edit, too?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Something I’ve discovered is that people love seeing animals in photos. I don’t think it’s silly, but if you want to be sure, gauging interest through Twitter seems a good way to go 🙂
        I do listen to movie soundtracks. Primarily Lord of the Rings & Harry Potter. Then some Pride and Prejudice, Young Victoria, Chronicles of Narnia, Jurassic Park, Star Trek…. oh boy, better stop this list now before it gets out of hand ;P

        Liked by 1 person

      • OK. I’ll have to see what the Tweeters say about it, then. 🙂

        That sounds a bit like my list of go-to soundtracks for TKC. At least with LOTR, Harry Potter, and Chronicles of Narnia. 😉

        I’ve been meaning to buy a few more film soundtracks. The last few that had an impact on me were Avatar, The Martian, and Life of Pi. I just keep forgetting to get them. *lol*

        Liked by 1 person

      • I still have to watch the Martian and Life of Pi! Movie soundtracks always manage to inspire me. Sometimes I look for specific songs that match the energy of my scene, and sometimes I just love being swept up in the magic of them ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      • They’re both great movies, and in very different ways. My only confession, though, is that I’ve yet to read the Life of Pi novel by Yann Martel. But I’m hoping to get to it before the end of this year…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I say YES! to tea: I found it unskippable part of my writing preparation time. I can’t seem to get in the zone if I have no tea (I might guzzle it down in the first 5 minutes, but I have to have it).
    And music – to me, it helps in cutting me off. Like a shield from distractions.
    And similar to you: I’m not a fan of coffee shops, though mostly because they feel uncomfortable and because I always feel I’m overstaying my welcome (you know, I drank my coffee already, but haven’t left yet).
    Anyways, great post! Make me feel like borrowing the idea and writing one of my own :).


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  10. I like reading about your writing space and rituals. You one of those writers who wants music in the background, eh? I can never write with any noise. I need absolute silence… which is why I’m so happy to have a studio. It’s a little one but it’s all mine and I can retreat in there when I write. Though I don’t disdain my kitchen table either.

    And I love writing in coffee shops!
    Odd, don’t you think? When I’m home, I can’t suffer a noise, but at coffee shop and can write no matter what’s happening around me.
    I don’t understand. But it works for me 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it interesting how writers can be so different in their individual rituals? And like in your case, maybe we sometimes need different rituals depending on our environment. Personally I get distracted by conversation and voices, so I avoid writing in coffee shops. But everyone’s process is unique. 😉

      Thanks as always for commenting, Sarah!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ooh, so your candles actually capture the mood of your scene? *ponders this* I usually only have 1-3 candles in my possession at a time! xD The only thing I do to capture the mood of my scene is the soundtrack I listen to, if I listen to any. Sometimes the environment I’m in conveniently captures the mood, too. O.o

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well… yes and no? *lol* It’s more like picking a candle with a color and/or scent that reflects something about the scene. Example: I like to use Yankee Candle’s Midsummer’s Night for a scene set in nighttime or darkness. YC’s April Showers also went nicely with some of the early quest scenes, when Eva and the company were riding through the plains of the Hartlands.

      I’ve always had a lot of candles, tbh. *lol* Some are out for decoration, but others are kept in a closet. You never know when you might need them for practical reasons! (Like during a power outage, along with flashlights.)


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