Thursday, December 02, 2010

Where Does Your Muse Hang Out?

I'm trying to get back in a regular writing routine. I know. I know. My timing sucks. So what else is new? Attempting this during the holiday season poses--shall we say--a significant challenge. Finding time to write is usually the biggest hurdle. Working full-time, having college-aged triplets I want to spend time with, plus all the added pre-Christmas 'to-dos' put writing time at a definite premium. Add to that the fact that it gets dark by five p.m. (and I have a tendency to want to hibernate during long winter nights) and it's 'Muse, we have a problem' time.

Yet, surprisingly, time hasn't turned out to be the biggest problem for me. Nope. Not time. But space. Writing space, that is. Here's the deal.

I have a five bedroom house. One of the bedrooms is my office. It's also the coldest room in the house. Of course, that's nothing a portable heater won't fix. It's got my files, bookshelves, printers, desk top and a comfy easy chair for hard copy edits. Yet for some reason I'm having trouble getting into the 'writing zone' in my office.

I've had my office in various places inside--and outside--this house. When I first moved here, my office was in the basement. After a rather unpleasant flooding experience, I moved my office upstairs, but there were too many distractions so I moved my office outside to the detached garage. You see, the previous owner ran a TV repair business out of one side of the garage so it was basically finished. I replaced the carpeted workbench top with a hard-service countertop and I wrote like a madwoman in that office. Unfortunately, another flood forced me to relinquish my garage office for use as a storage facility for spare furniture and plastic storage bins.

Goodbye garage office. Hello spare bedroom office igloo.

It's not working out all that well. I'm too accessible--as is the refrigerator, the high def wide screen machine, and my new exercise bike.

Any tips on how to find a place to hang out with your muse that will ignite that writing flame and bump up the word count totals? Where is the absolute best place for you to write? Starbucks? The corner cafe? A cubicle at the local library? A park shelterhouse or park bench? A tiny little corner beneath a slanting roof ala Stephen King?

Tell me. Where does your muse 'deliver'?

~Bullet Hole Bacus blogging from her laptop on the dining room table~


Angie Fox said...

You know what? I have an office too, but I don't ever do anything but administration type things in there. I need to keep the business part separate. The actual writing I do on the green couch in our living room. It's not glamorous, but it works!

By now my family knows they can hang out or do whatever as long as they don't interrupt me too many times. I have a set time when I write (which also helps when setting "hey let me focus on this" family limits) and that's when the work gets done. Hope this helps!

Christie Craig said...


I'm a creature of habit. I write in my office and I write best in my office. It's messy, I still get too many interruptions from hubby and son, but I still prefer it to writing anywhere else. I keep the muse locked in the closet, I guess. LOL.

Good luck, Kathy.


Robin Kaye said...

I've had several offices too. The first was in a corner of the family room with Teletubbies and Barney in the background. Somehow I wrote the equivalent of three books sitting there on a hard-wood kitchen chair in between getting apple juice and snakes for my little one.

The second worked well, it was an upstairs bedroom, ten feet from the room my DH and I shared. Middle of the night writing was very convenient and when the house was full of people, it was a hassle to get to--they'd have to leave the TV for longer than just a commercial break to come and bug me. It was pretty much heaven until my DH finished the downstairs bedroom which became ours.

Our upstairs bedroom went to the girls, the other was my son's which meant that to get into my office, I had to walk through one of their rooms. Minefields were less dangerous, especially in the middle of the night when I'd wake up knowing how to solve a problem or with an idea I didn't want to forget.

My office moved downstairs to a room my DH and I made into a make-shift library/adult TV room. By day I'd work and by night, my DH would come in and man the remote. When one kid had the family room TV, invariably the other would come to my office. The room is also close to the Kitchen and next to the only downstairs bathroom. Even with the door closed, they still poke their head in to say Hi on the way to the bathroom or to ask what's for dinner.

The best place I ever wrote was the Carlisle Crossing, PA Starbucks. I home schooled Twinkle Toes and drove her to Carlisle to dance every day (an hour and a half away). I'd have between three and six hours a day to work there. I have my favorite table, baristas who have become more like family than even friends, and the best coffee around. 'Bux is my writing Nirvana. I've written almost 4 books there and unfortunately, since Twinkle Toes has moved up there, I still routinely get at least twice the word count at Starbucks (only in Carlisle) than I get at home. I've tried writing in the 'Bux a mile away but it doesn't work. Since I have a book due in 13 days, I'm thinking of moving to Carlisle for the duration.

Kathy Bacus said...

Isn't that weird that both of us have designated office space, but don't actually do a lot of writing in them, Angie?

I LOVED the garage office because while I was close to the house and its occupants, I was still isolated enough that it took some effort for the kids to make the trip out back to engage me.

Interestingly enough, I also seem to write best at present on my laptop in my big comfy living room chair. Hands down the most productive place I have written was a motel room. I had a very tight deadline and a sympathetic hotel manager gave me a great room rate. Definitely worth the investment.

Kathy Bacus said...

I like my office, Christie, but for some reason I just haven't been as productive in it as I was in other places. I have decided my next home improvement project will be building a new shed for all the storage bins and giving my garage office a facelift so that can be my permanent office.

Kathy Bacus said...

You know I've heard so many writers find Starbucks (or a reasonable facsimile) a terrific place to write, Robin. That's amazing to me that it works so well for you. I'm envious. I really require more isolation than that to write. I've written on a picnic table at a county park, a library cubible tucked in a back corner of the library, in the car waiting for kids' at sports practices. You name it. Sometimes it just takes the right place for the right book.

Good luck with your deadline!

Shel said...

The key to working at a place like Starbucks is having your headphones and good music on your laptop or mp3 player. At least, that's what works for me.

Kathy Bacus said...

The noise at places like Starbucks is more than a bit distracting for me, Shel, so I can see why headphones would be required. I would also have to camp out at one in a bigger city that offers anonymity. If I took my laptop up to the coffee shop on my hometown square, I'd NEVER get a thing done.

Thanks for the suggestion!