I read an "advice to writers" post months ago that had the bullet-pointed thought, "Don't be precious." Yeah, when you write you might like tea in your blue mug at the kitchen table, but you don't NEED tea in your blue mug at the kitchen table to write. Don't be so quirky when it comes to your writing atmosphere that you choke yourself. And I think that's really sound advice. You can write anywhere, anytime, with any manner of paraphenalia surrounding you.
But where's the fun in that?
I'm not suggesting limiting yourself, and I'm definitely not suggesting being a huge priss about the whole process and deciding that, if your coffee has too much cream, your Muse has been drowned by dairy and you can't write until you've revived her. Writers write. It doesn't matter where you are or what else is surrounding you--don't let habitat become excuse. Sometimes, though, everyone is allowed a bit of fun with their occupation, lest good daily work become the daily grind.
So--for fun, a little Q&A I made up. Please steal. I'd like to see your answers--and craft your perfect writing day!
1) Where do you like to write?
I like coffee shops and Panera and the big hulking study rooms at the university I work for, especially the "South Lounge" which looks like a turn-of-the-century train station. I like the ebb and rush of people, the chatter of a dozen conversations melding into a dim cacaphony. I like the change of scenery. I like people. I like that, at the coffee shop, there's no laundry insisting I put it in the dryer already or dishes clamoring to be done.
2) What time of day?
I love getting an early start on a weekend and having a substantial word count drafted by 11 a.m. Bright morning light streaming in the window. Cheerful people buying bagels or scones or taking their mothers out to breakfast. Mornings are a hopeful, happy time.
Unless I'm writing in my quiet house as evening presses into night and I want to feel a bit morose.
3) What do you prefer to be wearing?
Layers. I like a sturdy pair of jeans and my riding boots in winter or sandals in summer and about five shirts than I can take off or put back on as the temperature fluctuates. I especially like scarves, the pashmina-esque variety with plenty of yardage. I sit near windows a lot. There are drafts. It gets chilly. And I do like to be dressed--no pajamas or sweats. Makes me feel as though I'm serious about my work to be dressed properly.
4) Beverage at hand?
This one is easy. In the morning? Coffee. Preferably hazelnut coffee or my own French press concoction flavored with cinnamon. Afternoon? Tea. Earl or Lady Grey. After sunset? Red wine. Unless it's summer and very hot. Then, chilled Sauvignon Blanc. (Yes, that's me being precious.)
Nope. I get so drawn in that snacking would be a distraction. I take breaks to eat, and come back refreshed. Because if you write on an empty stomach, suddenly every scene centers on food. There's no conflict. Just eating. Or maybe that's just me.
Until very recently, none at all. I found it distracting--especially, as odd as this is, instrumental music because instrumentals are usually so complex and rich that I found myself listening to them instead of focusing on my own creative process. I have found, though, that music from the era I'm writing about is not only tolerable but even sustaining, so have been piping 1930s music into my ears. Plus early choral music--Thomas Tallis, Josquin Desprez--can pervade my brain without interupting my writing. When editing, I listen to just about anything. And every story has its inspiration soundtrack from the brainstorming days.
7) By yourself or with others?
I never really have the opportunity to work with others--I don't have any local writer-friends. Once in a while I'll meet up with a student friend and we'll work on our respective projects. Still, given that I'm around people 100% of the time at work (and man! does that get old sometimes) I enjoy the simple pleasure of solitude.
8) Laptop? Desktop? Longhand?
I do all my writing on my laptop. If I get bored or antsy, I can just move a few tables over or to the next room and feel like there's a whole new world opening up to me. And my handwriting has degraded to that of an eighty-year-old baboon with hand tremors.
So--my ideal writing date looks like: By myself, in the corner of a coffee shop or the like, by a window (if I've brought plenty of layers), with optional music and a hazelnut coffee in the morning OR By myself, at home at night with a glass of red wine.
How about you?