Wednesday, February 1, 2017


I have a romantic image of a writer sitting in a little café scribbling away on a notepad or tapping on a laptop while sipping at a steaming mug of coffee and munching on a scone.  Perhaps from time to time the writer gazes off into space, pondering the next finely crafted sentence.

Unfortunately, real life doesn’t seem to work out that way.  

When my children were small I worked for a local newspaper.  I attended town meetings at night, then came home to write up the stories in the wee hours.  I interviewed various people in town who were doing interesting things, as long as I could conclude the interviews in time to get home to meet the school bus.

When I decided to write novels, I sat in the car or on the bleachers during soccer matches and Little League games, scribbling notes on scraps of paper.  I hunkered down in my office while every child in the neighborhood—or so it seemed—ran screeching through my house.  I stocked up on snacks and told them they could eat whatever they wanted as long as they didn’t interrupt me. Somehow I managed to tune out the chaos long enough to get some work done.

My best writing came when the house was quiet and husband and children were nestled snugly in their beds.  I’d write until 4AM and then rise, bleary-eyed, to car pool and cook and do all the other tasks involved in running a household.  I’d read articles giving advice to writers to get up an hour or so early to do their writing before the household came to life, but once I was asleep I could never bring myself to give up those last few precious minutes of shut-eye

Now the children are grown and I still want to stick to my night owl ways, except more often than not I wake to find my head resting on the keyboard instead of my fingers.
I have friends who spend their days in Starbucks or in small, local coffee shops, writing on their laptops.  They claim the bustle helps them focus.
 I have friends who make playlists for each novel and use the music to get themselves in the mood.
 And then I have friends who require silence and solitude to do their best work.
I think I tend more toward the silence and solitude side.  I think I’d be too distracted sitting in a public place, no doubt eavesdropping on the conversations going on around me.  I tried the background music a few times but got caught up in singing the words, even though the music was just instrumental.

I’m thinking of trying a compromise, though.  Maybe in an alcove in the public library, where I wouldn’t be tempted to jump up to do another load of laundry or look to see if the mail came yet every time I hit a snag.

Where do you do your best thinking?  Is it at a certain time of day or in a certain place? Just please don’t tell me the best ideas come when you’re cleaning the house.


  1. I have always been and remain a morning writer, and I like coffee shops and quiet coves in libraries very well, but my office (part of the garage) has a great desk and a great window beside it. I've always loved working in hotel dining rooms and we still spend a night away from home once in a while if 1st round edits call for it!

    1. I'm also most comfortable at my desktop in my office, but I've got a retired husband. If you think writing with kids running around is hard...

    2. That's why my office is in the garage! When we both retired from day jobs and found out the house where five once lived got crowded with two, he and my sons made me a nice, big present out here. :-)

  2. Mid-day for me, and mostly in my office -- at a PC. I rise, wash and brush, have a cereal-and-berries breakfast, and go to the gym first thing every day. After the gym (which is sometimes followed by a trip to the grocery store), I check email. Then I start to write.
    I'm not good at writing away from home but am able to do so under quiet conditions. I typically write on sea days during a cruise, but usually when I travel (which is often now that hubby's retired) I bring a few chapters to edit. I can edit anywhere (frequently at doctor offices), but can't cannot CREATE just anywhere. And I don't like to write at my laptop. How do those people write books at Starbuck's?
    I'm impressed, Hannah, that you could write during your children's activities. What a busy mom you were! Those were fun days. Does it sound too sappy for us to say how we miss our kids now that they're grown?

    1. You have a lot of discipline, Cheryl! I go to the gym most days, but I don't seem to be able to keep a regular schedule as far as what time I go.


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