Writers have a long history of writing anywhere but at their desk. Where do you go for inspiration? I’ve been known to write at the usual local writer’s haunts: Starbucks, Panera’s, Barnes & Nobles, Borders, and the time-honored public library. I’ve written standing up at a counter, leaning back in the bed, relaxed in a recliner, and frantically dashing off a note while still in the tub. The last requires some skill to keep the paper dry.
The first draft of my first book was born while I was sitting on a stool at the cafe counter in a local bowling alley. For twenty-one days I showed up every evening at 6PM. My friend who worked there played midwife and kept the coffee hot and my cup full as I pushed ink onto notebook pages for four hours every night. Definitely helped hone my ability to concentrate no matter what’s going on around me.
Lately I’ve heard the call of cemeteries, one in particular. I can’t help it. Five minutes standing among those historical headstones triggers scenes that anxiously press to be recorded. Other writers drew inspiration from other writing environments.
Conrad Aiken worked at a refectory table in the dining room; Robert Graves wrote in a room furnished only with objects made by hand. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up; D. H. Lawrence under a tree. William Maxwell preferred “small messy rooms that don’t look out on anything interesting.” Katherine Anne Porter said she got her writing done in the country, where she lived like a hermit. Ben Franklin wrote in the bathtub, Jane Austen amid family life, Marcel Proust in the confines of his bed. Balzac ate an enormous meal at five in the evening, slept till midnight, then got up and wrote at a small desk in his room for sixteen hours straight, fueled by endless cups of coffee. Toni Morrison found refuge in a motel room when her children were small; E. B. White sought it in a cabin on the shore. Due to her problem back, Penelope Lively works in an armchair, with an “ancient electronic typewriter” on her lap, while A. L. Kennedy finds comfort in a “monster black chair” in a room “the color of blood.”–Alexandra Enders, The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why, Poets & Writers
And you, are you confined to a computer and a desk or does the need for inspiration lead you to move about? Leave a comment below and tell us about your experiences.
The Importance of Place: Where Writers Write and Why