Write where you want to be

Log cabin with mountains in distance
Close enough to my dream. ©Charles Knowles, The Knowles Gallery, via flickr.com

For a couple of years when I was growing up, most of my family’s “new” possessions started out in the house next door. Our neighbors were wealthier than we were – especially when Dad was out of work and mom was a student teacher – and they regularly gave us the things they outgrew or grew bored of.

I don’t remember there being any stigma attached – all us kids were good friends and it didn’t seem to matter to any of us whether the toys were kept at their house or ours. The only time I remember being uncomfortable was when I tried to fit into the girl next door’s hand-me-downs.

Ever seen a squat, busty 12 year old try to squeeze herself into a dress that had fit a lithe surfer girl? That was me at sixth-grade graduation.

But I digress.

My mom also received hand-me-downs from the mom next door, but hers came in the form of furniture and magazines. Our neighbor had excellent taste, and she redecorated fairly regularly so we always had beautiful things, just a couple of years the wrong side of brand new.

I loved it most when mom got magazines because they were always about home decor. Mom encouraged me to cut out pictures I liked and put them in a scrapbook alongside descriptions of what my house would one day look like.

I have no idea where those books are now, but I vividly remember writing about the items I chose and imagining spending my adulthood in a home I’d created myself.

Before long, I began picturing myself as a writer in that home, and it’s an image that’s stuck with me all these years.

I’m sure most writers think about what their ideal writing space would be. Some are lucky enough to have their own room, or a basement to convert, or a little annex in the back yard where they can create the best atmosphere for their imagination to thrive.

I have a couch, and I balance my netbook on a pillow, but I find it difficult to concentrate when the flat’s messy.

Sometimes I go to Starbucks and mentally block out the music, but if other customers are having a bizarre conversation I find it hard to ignore.

If money were no object, I would create the same dream space I imagined as a kid (does that mean I haven’t matured?). It would be a log cabin on a tranquil emerald lake. There would be no spooky felled trees at the bottom of the lake, unlike the only lake I’ve ever swum in (somewhere in Washington state), which gave me the willies.

The cabin would be surrounded by wildflowers for most of the year. Of course, they’d change with the seasons.

I’d be able to see the next-closest cabin through the trees in the distance – too far to be overlooked but close enough to call for help (I read too many slasher mysteries as a kid, clearly).

I’d have a daybed on the sleeping porch for really hot nights and a sleigh bed piled high with Grandma’s handmade quilts for snowy nights.

I’d take my netbook down to my personal dock to write. Sometimes I’d write while lazing around in my rowboat.

Oh, and there would be no mosquitoes, no stinging insects, and nothing that buzzes past your ear. Only pretty bugs allowed.

But most of all, I’d have earned enough to pay someone else to clean my cabin. Hey – I have to be realistic about my dreams, right?

If you could create your own space to write in, what would it look like? What are the most important details to get right in your writing space?


  1. It would be a beach shack. Nothing else… Or a cabin in the mountains…? I better stop, the list is endless. Right now, I have a desk beside a window in my ‘writing room’ but I also take my netbook downstairs to my favourite sofa and sometimes into the garden. Water, coffee, bubbly sometimes accompany me.

    Happy Writing this week!

    1. Mmm…a beach shack with nothing but the sound of the waves pounding the shore…and perhaps the smell of fresh coffee as it’s delivered by a lifeguard.

      Yep, I’m right there with you, Talei.

      Happy writing to you, too!

  2. This is a tough one. I think my dream writing location would be in a clean, uncluttered office space with two walls of glass looking out over a river next to a forest. Lucky I have a good imagination, as I can’t see that coming true anytime soon!

    Great article, by the way.

    1. Ooh, I LOVE the glass wall! Brilliant idea. And it would keep the mosquitoes out. *nasty little f-ers*

  3. Honestly I never gave much thought to an ideal writing space. I’d like to live in a place away from towns and people, out in the country where there is peace and quiet. A place where, if I felt like it, I could disappear into the woods for awhile with my notebook and not worry about being bothered. A place with beautiful sights to calm the mind and stimulate creativity.

    So I guess I have nothing super specific. So long as I can get peace and quiet I’ll be happy haha

  4. It would be a cozy room, furnished with a desk, CEO arm-rest chair, walls lined with books and uncountable power sockets for my computer anywhere I turn or any posture I take 🙂

    1. Ha! You’re much more practical than I am. Electricity never occurred to me. Probably not something I want to mix with a rowboat on a lake. 😉 Thanks for sharing my post and sending other writers my way!

  5. I loved this….dropped by here because I saw Tomi’s tweet, and I totally loved this. Not because of the play on words you did with the title, or because I think we’re alike in some ways (I CANNOT write when my room – don’t have a flat to myself- is messy), it’s not even because I wore hand me downs as a kid too; it’s because your dreams for the kind of space you’d like to write in are the reason I write scripts (professionally and for my personal amusement): to live out all my fantasies through the characters because trust me, some of them (the dreams) I know I cannot have!
    I’ll be back to read the romance stuff (naturally), just need to get through with my class report now!

    1. I’m so glad this post connected with you, D, and I’m thrilled to meet someone so similar to me! One of my colleagues asked me the other day, “Isn’t writing lonely? Just you and your computer for hours?” But I immediately thought of how I love spending that time with my characters (and, like you say, seeing some of my favorite dreams come true through them), and how writing helps me connect with other people – like you!

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Best of luck on your report. 🙂

  6. i would have a small room with huge windows overlooking the ocean so i could hear the waves. since i write all rough drafts longhand, i’d have a cozy overstuffed yellow armchair in the corner, with a bright orange blanket for chilly days, and an end table for coffee and books. there’d be lots of light. i’d have a lap desk for my new pink iPad [i’d have one of these] for when i’m revising/finalizing, blogging, or just need a computer-type device. i’d have shelves full of books, notebooks, journals. bins full of pens, pencils, markers, hi-liters. and it would be completely peaceful, no distractions.

    i have given this no thought whatsoever 😉

    1. Ha! Very detailed, and I love that you write your rough drafts longhand and would design your ideal space around that. Hope one day you get this space!

  7. I am so lucky to have my own writing room and I don’t take it for granted for a second. I have a white board and a cork board on the wall to work on (on Friday night I was using both, along with my laptop AND my notebook!). If I could have my DREAM writing space, though, it would be a porch with nothing but green grass and trees to look at and a constant warm drizzle (I live in AZ). I also want a white board WALL so I always have plenty of room to scribble!

    Must find richer husband.

    1. Both your real and imaginary writing spaces sound fantastic, Mallory! And, take it from someone who lives in London – drizzle is overrated.

  8. My ideal writing space would be a winter garden in my parents backyard, looking out at the pasture where my horse is grazing. And if I’m lucky in a couple years that dream will come true, living in an apartment on the second floor right now. Don’t get me wrong, my parents aren’t leaving their farm house, my dad would die if he had to live in a apartment. Nope, the stable is going to be renovated to an apartment for me and I’m going to have my very own wintergarden too.


  9. You make me feel so fortunate – I’ve lived on the edge of the beach and it’s hard to leave. I was doing other creative things and it did help me a lot – whenever I needed a lift I’d walk out on the deck and listen to the surf. Now I’m in the Sierras and it’s different – much of the time it’s dead quiet and I watch the deer through the window, sit in front of a delightful fire… it helps my writing. To be honest, I’ve been lucky that I’ve had the space I dreamed of, so I’m not sure how I would make it any better.

    I hope you all get a chance to write in the room you envision.

    1. Erika, I’m truly jealous! What fantastic places to be able to write, and it’s wonderful that you appreciate them while you live in them, instead of wishing for better and then missing what you have.

      Happy writing!

  10. From Jun of last year to Jan, I had the privilege to live in a beach house. It was the best for writing and simply to relax. Writing with a view of the ocean is my absolute favorite. My second choice would be at Lake Como in Italy. Still by a body of water, but completely different. Tranquil, serene, stunning.
    Right now, I have a small private office, soft lavender walls, a pleasant view of my backyard. Like Mallory, I have a cork board which is my vision board. I put up little things to inspire my current WIP, but mostly to help me stay centered on my main objectives as a writer.

    1. I’m really intrigued by these boards you and Mallory have, Isis. I’ve never been able to split my attention between the computer and something else or all my thoughts come tumbling out. How do you use it to keep you centered?

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