Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where and When is best?

I’m sure you’re waiting on the edge of your seat with baited breath, asking yourself what I mean; best for what? Well, it’s me… so writing, of course.

The short answer is: only you can ever really know the answer, as it applies to you.

It took me a long time (read as: more than 20 years of fighting with family, significant others, and myself) to figure out what time of day and what locations were most conducive for my writing. I am an insomniac by nature, and have a profound addiction to coffee, so it only seems natural that I would write at night. Also, to feed that coffee addiction I just mentioned, I find that diners, dives, and holes in the wall in the middle of nowhere are often helpful for attention to detail, and lack of distraction.

Since the answer for you will likely be different than my answer, I’ll just go on from this point to talk about what works for me… and from that you might be able to better find what works for you.

I don’t sleep every night. Sometimes I don’t even sleep for a few nights at a time. I have children and a full-time “daytime” life, which means that I don’t have much time during the day to work on my writing. I do all my creative work at night. This is natural for me, as I’ve classically (since childhood) done the best job of using my imagination when the sun was down.

My best writing comes between 1 and 4 in the morning. I don’t know why this is, but I know that at that point of the AM my mind is flooded with ideas, and I can barely write, or type, fast enough to get them all out. I didn’t just magically “know that” one day, it took years of writing at all different times of the day and night to discover that that was the “sweet spot”. Once I figured it out though I was cranking out 10-100 pages a day without even thinking about it. Find the time that your mind is best suited to let go of its ideas… and you could have similar results.

Next… “Location, location, location”.

When I lived in Chicago it was the Denny’s in Schaumburg, When I lived in DC it was Amphora. Now that I live in the middle of nowhere (Kentucky) again… it’s one of two places: Huddle House, or Waffle Hut.

What do these places have in common? They are 24 hour, they are low key, once you go there regularly for a bit you can easily “know” all the staff, and the coffee flows cheap and easy.

Characters walk in and out, conversations happen nearby, and all you have to do is be an observer of the ‘human condition’ to find aids to keep you moving past writer’s block.

So I guess what all this rambling is to say, by way of advice: find your minds natural time and place to write, and it’ll come much easier and more naturally for you. The time is there, you just have to keep trying until you find it. The place for you may be in your home, or at a bus station, or in a park… you never know until you find it. Try places out. Drive ‘em around the block. Kick the tires. You’ll find a place that’s a perfect fit to you, and your writing time.

Once you have both... look out world. :D


  1. I love hearing about how other writers operate. We are all so different!

    I wish I could write in public places like you do. I honestly believe I have sensory integration disorder, though I've not been formally diagnosed. Every little sound is like a scream to me. My distractability factor is ridiculously high (maybe I have some ADD too!). That's why it's so hard for me to write where there are people. Weekdays are easy because all three Demonlings are in school during the day, but on weekends and holidays, I work best early in the morning or late at night when the devils are asleep and the house is quiet.

  2. Kendall,

    I've always been able to completely block out the world around me. I credit my father for this... it's what he does when the television is on. The house could fall down, and he'd never know as long as it didn't block the picture. I can "tune out" all the ambient and fall into whatever it is I'm working on. ;)

  3. It changes for me from book to book, and even from day to day. I've written entire novels in the passenger's seat of a car doing laps around the city. It's really bizarre. I can't work from 1 to 4 in the morning, though--I love my sleep! :D

  4. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I recently put out an ebook of my writing, called The New Death and others. It's a collection of short pieces, mostly dark fantasy.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please email me: news@apolitical.info. Let me know what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy.

    You can download a sample from the ebook's page on Smashwords:


    I'm also happy to do interviews, guest posts, or giveaways. Just let me know what you'd prefer.