In the hopes of offering up some inspiration for these cold, gray days of winter, I asked several talented writer friends I'm honored to know: WHERE DO YOU WRITE? WHAT'S YOUR WRITING ROUTINE? HOW OFTEN DO YOU WRITE PER DAY OR PER WEEK? They all graciously gave up some of their precious writing time to answer. I hope their answers will help all writers—beginning and seasoned—see that we all must find the routine that works for us...but we must write. No fancy office, no completely commitment-free day is necessary (or even possible) sometimes. But we write anyway.
LESLEY KAGEN, author of WHISTLING IN THE DARK and TOMORROW RIVER
"I get up with the birds every morning. Shrug on my furry white lucky writing jacket and head downstairs. After feeding the dogs, I grab a huge cup of tea and head straight to my computer that sits atop a long desk in front of a window that overlooks my backyard. I try to stay dreamy so I have better access to my subconscious where it all happens in the creative part of the process. I rarely budge from my chair, except for more caffeine and the occasionally stretch. When I feel tapped out, I head up to the shower, which helps me make a transition back into the real word. This is my routine every morning, every day of the week. No exceptions. I think it's enormously important to have a routine when it comes to writing. To have a groove that you sink into."CRYSTAL WILKINSON, author of WATER STREET and BLACKBERRIES, BLACKBERRIES
"I have written at many places but my latest is at the kitchen table. It seems I have to grow comfortable in a place and sort of nest there before I'm happy. I try to write at least three times a week though this doesn't always happen. My latest routine is to choose one day a week when I write for 8 to 12 hours."BETH HOFFMAN, author of SAVING CeeCee HONEYCUTT
"I live in a circa 1902 Queen Anne in a quaint historic district that’s loaded with old world charm. On the second floor of my home I have what I call a writing library. Though the room isn’t very large, it has lots of bookshelves and three soaring windows in an ashlar-cut stone bay that opens to a view of the front gardens. Morning light floods into the room, and it has a fireplace that I keep burning throughout the winter. My kitties spend the majority of their time lounging on a windowsill or curled up at my feet. I’m a disciplined writer and usually spend at least six hours a day either writing, researching, or thinking. Sometimes when the muse is with me, I’ll write late into the night."BRAD RIDDELL, Screenwriter, AMERICAN PIE: BAND CAMP and ROAD TRIP II
Los Angeles, CA
"I’m funky about where I write. My first movie was written almost entirely in a Starbucks on Hollywood Boulevard. I’ve also worked in libraries, but I find them to be a bit too stifling. I have an office in my home, and over time I’ve discovered that that is where I must sit to actually write a draft. When it comes to brainstorming, outlining, and problem solving, I prefer the kitchen table, the patio or the pool. For some reason, I don’t want to be tied to my desk for the truly creative-intense work. If not a notepad, then a laptop is my favorite development tool—anywhere but in the office!ELLEN BAKER, author of KEEPING THE HOUSE
I try to write everyday, and am often juggling multiple projects. In fact, right after the strike ended, I was working on three scripts at once—and for that, I bought myself an espresso machine (that Katrina absolutely adores!). Back in film school I discovered I write best in the morning. Back then, I’d work before school at 6:00. Now, with two teaching gigs and two kids, morning means 3:30 A.M. It ain’t great, but it’s what I got right now and I’m making it happen."
"I write on my laptop sitting on my couch in my pajamas seven mornings a week for four or five hours (okay, maybe a bit less on weekends)."ILIE RUBY, author of THE LANGUAGE OF TREES
"Right now, we’re buried in 20 inches of snow so I write wherever it’s warm in the house, or where I can plug in my electric blanket. I’m a night owl, and I love to create a nest that’s comfortable and warm. My favorite spot is on my big comfy living room couch, after my children have gone to bed or to school. I like to have space enough to spread out my manuscript, and have my favorite books within an arm’s reach. When I'm in a heavy writing or editing phase, I work up to 10 hours a day, mostly at night after putting the kids to bed, so from 8pm to 3am. Then I’ll catch a few hours in the afternoon before they get home from school."KRIS RIGGLE, author of THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED and REAL LIFE & LIARS
Grand Rapids, MI
"My designated writing time is four mornings a week while my son is at school and my daughter is at day care. I'll write other times though if I have to. At various times I've written after my kids are in bed or before the crack of dawn when I didn't have much child care in my schedule. I finished my debut novel in spurts of writing with my infant daughter snoozing in her baby swing and my son at preschool."KELLY O’CONNOR McNEES, author of THE LOST SUMMER OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
"I write in a little office off our bedroom. My desk is an old table I bought at a resale shop. I think it is from a high school because there is still gum on the bottom I haven't been able to pry off. My routine is to write first thing every morning. I write every weekday and either Saturday or Sunday. Sometimes things come up and a few days go by without work. But the goal is to be at it consistently. A week off and I am toast. But I do take time off between projects."EMILY GRAY TEDROWE, author of COMMUTERS
"I write in what Virginia Woolf more grandly called 'a room of one’s own' but in my case would be more accurately called “a closet of own’s one.” Our apartment’s good-sized front hall closet would be prized by most Chicagoans—who doesn’t need more storage for all those winter coats and snow boots?—but is especially so by me. I claimed it right away for an office; my desk and bulletin board and even a bookcase fit in here perfectly, if a bit snugly. It’s not for the claustrophobic, but I love having this space all to myself. But the truth is all I really need is my laptop—in the past I’ve worked in many other writing spaces, including a spare bathroom, a corner of my kids’ playroom, and too many coffee shops to remember. (As for where we store all those coats and boots . . . well, let’s just say our place isn’t going to win a shelter-mag organizing award any time soon.)JENNA BLUM, author of THOSE WHO SAVE US and THE STORM CHASERS
I try to write regularly, first thing in the morning (once the kids are at school), and I shoot for six days a week. In all honesty, most days this means no more than an hour or two of solid writing time. That's supplemented with the rare visit to an artists’ colony or retreat where I can put in long hours and really push forward in a manuscript."
Boston and Minnesota
"When I'm not actively writing a book, I spend several hours a day writing correspondence to readers, working on blogs, etc. I also tend to spend a couple of years before I start writing a book writing *about* the book, figuring out what it's going to be, so I fill notebooks (longhand) with ideas about the book's architecture, playing the 'Who ARE these people?' game about the characters, determining theme, etc. So even when I'm not writing, I'm writing.KRISTINA McBRIDE, author of THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES
When I am writing a book, I'm in the Writer's Protection Program, writing all day, every day. Evenings are for walking my black Lab and rehearsing the writing I'll do the next day. When I'm at my house in Boston, I write at the glass-topped dining room table. When I'm in my house in Minnesota--well, I haven't figured that out yet, since I haven't had the house that long! But I think I'll be writing again at the dining room table, which is wood."
"I write whenever I can find snippets of time, which isn't often enough in my hectic household with two kids under five. I am lucky that both children nap well, so I can usually count on two hours per afternoon, and if I'm on a deadline, I'll set the alarm an hour or two before I get them up for the day. I work daily, sometimes drafting new chapters, sometimes revising what I spent the last few days writing, and sometimes journaling to work through something that's still too tangled in my mind to work into the story."Huge thanks to these wonderful writers! I hope you'll check out some of their amazing work. Later this week, these same writers answer the question: Do you have any "tricks," "bribes," or methods you use to keep yourself on track with writing goals?