Where Writers Write

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Flight Journal Call for Submissions (Short story)

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
In a couple of recent threads, we Colonists have shared details of where we write. Some famous writers were rather eccentric in their choices, with some needing the reassurance of strange rituals and fetishes to feel comfortable:


I've heard of authors writing while standing up, which could avoid some of the health risks of spending much of the time sitting down, but would surely be tiring. There's lots of retailers selling stand-up desks these days, though I've yet to see a bed or bath aimed at horizontal writing:


I write either at my desk or in a notebook on the couch. Pretty boring.

I have never been able to write with other people/noise around me, so I'm not a coffee-shop writer.
The iPad had revolutionised writing for me as it is so portable, 'boots up' in an instant and has a decent battery life. Personally I like the landscape view keyboard though I know many disagree.
Automatic backup to the cloud and easy sync with Dropbox.
I've written my last two books exclusively on it and the current WIPs are on it too. The iMac stands there and weeps...
I usually type in bed (since there's nowhere else for me to sit in my tiny apartment :) ), but at work, we have standing desks, which has shown me the value of standing while you work. Not only does it take time away from sitting down, but it burns more calories too! So I try to use one of my shorter bookshelves to set up a mini-office. Laptop with keyboard and mouse plugged in. I can't stand for more than an hour/hour and a half at a time, but it sure beats sitting for that time.
In my last job, I had a standing desk and loved it. It was a little irritating when they removed the bar stool to lean back against once in a while, "in the interests of greater productivity." As if I didn't already move everywhere at a run, jump, or skip and produce four times or more than any other employee. All the same, I loved being on my feet nine hours a day every day. I did my writing when I could during the day then, as well. Now I have a desk and chair, and compensate by going to the gym.
A standing desk... I like the idea but don't think it would work for me.
It did for Churchill though!
Haruki Murakami has shared some images of his writing desk and accoutrements. I see that he's another writer who works with music playing. I rather covet his reading lamps, and am currently watching several flexible neck and Anglepoise lamps on eBay. I'm relying on a bedside table light, atop a suitcase next to my writing table for illumination at the moment.


I don't have any lucky talismans around my computer, just a mobile phone, memory sticks and a wrist watch, along with a long Kitchen Devil knife with a serrated edge that I use as a backscratcher! I think that this makes me pragmatic, rather than stylish. Damn!
Wait - whilst at your desk you scratch your back with a long, serrated kitchen knife??

Is this some kind of Advanced Cleudo?
Wait - whilst at your desk you scratch your back with a long, serrated kitchen knife??

Is this some kind of Advanced Cleudo?

Well, I have been looking for a solution to the puzzle of myself for 61 years, Bernard, but the knife clue hasn't helped much. Living alone, there's no one to scratch my back for me, and the serrations of the knife are surprisingly effective at the job.

All writers have their little idiosyncrasies, don't they?

What are yours?
Some more writers have shared images of their writing desks on the Guardian's book page:


I think that I'd find sitting by a window with an attractive view too distracting, especially if I had birds to watch. The nearest window to me is ten feet away, looking out on a car park for the petrol station where I live, so not that attractive an alternative to my laptop screen.

The writers' desks with views of the natural world made me think of Richard LeGallienne's poem 'I Meant To Do My Work Today.'

'I Meant To Do My Work Today'

by Richard LeGallienne

I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.
And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand,
So what could I do but laugh and go?
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July Flash Fiction Submissions Posted

Flight Journal Call for Submissions (Short story)