Friday, April 15, 2011

Where and Where Not to Write

This week at Wicked Writers, our prompt was to explain what we considered to be the best places to write, as well as to describe some of the worst.

If one is fortunate, they have a private office somewhere. Perhaps it is removed from the house like a room out back. I always thought that I would love to have an office on a second floor with a marvelous view. I found this photo from one of my favorite films, Love Actually. That view isn't too bad, although I can't remember her name. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

If writing is one’s only job, perhaps a trip to the summer home or a winter retreat, all for the express purpose of getting away in order to remove distraction. Musicians do this all the time, but the successful ones can afford to do that, can’t they? They fly out to the Bahamas for 6 weeks and write and record a new album. Deep Purple famously went to Montreux to record an album and ended up coming up with perhaps the most famous song ever, due to a hotel fire, Smoke on the Water.

Speaking for myself now, I am in no position to go anywhere to write. I do have a laptop, however, so I can theoretically travel from one room to the next in my house as dictated by whatever house noise there might be. I can also take it outside and write while seated on the patio, where only the noise of the Finches will distract as they devour the food that we put out for them.

An issue that I have currently is I find it uncomfortable to write creatively on the laptop. I usually do not write anything but articles and posts on that thing. Both novels that I have written were done on the family PC with its traditional keyboard. I just feel more comfortable with that, so we’ll see. Hopefully it will simply be a matter of getting myself used to writing long works with my laptop. Otherwise, I will be having to share the family PC and that will be good for no one.

As those who have gotten to know me quite well can recall, I am firmly on record as having said that I need music around me at all times. This, however, is the one exception. Music is far too distracting, as some have commented this week. Therefore, the only time I need to resort to music is if the entire family is home and I need to drown them out a bit.

Both of my sons play instruments. I want them to get some practice time in, but when the oldest is playing his Baritone or the youngest his Sax, even if they are doing so down the hall in either their bedrooms or my master bedroom, it can be pretty loud. When my youngest isn’t on his instrument, he’s typically firmly plugged into his Xbox 360 in the first bedroom just off the living room, blowing bed guys or zombies to bits, yelling instructions into his wireless microphone to his buddies who are playing as well. My oldest is in Honor Choir as well as Honor Band, so he’s usually singing wherever he goes. All of these things, not to mention my wife potentially sitting before the television, force me to don the headphones and crank the Classical music.

If one is going to sit down to write with music, to me, Classical is the only way to go. Not only will it drown out whatever background noise you need removed from your creative mind, but it is fantastic at providing inspiration, too. Whether the scene that you are writing is sad, dramatic, horror-inducing, romantic, or action-packed, there’s plenty out there to choose from. I’m a power guy, so I’m usually listening to Holst’s The Planets or something similar.

Well, what do you Wicked Writers and Readers think? Where do we agree? Disagree? Do you have any suggestions for me or others? As always we’d love to hear them.


  1. Oh, Jimmy. I'd forgotten you were a fan of Love Actually. That's my fave too. Her name is Aurelia, and she is the sister of "Miss Dunkin Donuts". That whole scene with the manuscript going into the lake is priceless! My hero in my book, Angel, is Karl (in his underwear) - Rodrigo Santoro. He is my perfect Brazilian Daniel, the painter my guardian angel falls in love with...The Chanel No. 5 commercial he did with Nicole Kidman isn't too bad either.

    If you like power music, check out Ronin Hardiman, some of David Arkenstone's stuff and Hans Zimmer (who is the famous movie composer). I like The Mission as well. For great piano music Michael Jones (I think he's a friend on FB) or Paul Halley, who used to play the organ Schweitzer had made at St. John the Divine. There is one tune on his album Tryptych combining African tunes and chorus which was inspired by his choir practices during the time an African Dance troupe was using the basement, and the music blended. Can't remember the name right now.

    Paul Halley also does one called Angel Sitting On A Fence, because he said he saw one.

    I listen to different tunes depending on the scene I'm writing. I've said it before, I have 29 days of music on my laptop. When I have a difficult scene to work out, I put on my Dr. Dre headsets and go to sleep, put the computer on "random" and I get the problem solved.

    I do have a mild case of ADD, so the music focuses me. It also helps put me in an emotional state of one type or other, so I can get into the story.

    I have a nice writing room with 20' ceiling. I have a fireplace. Our house is very modern, with ground concrete floors that are sanded like marble. But I have to change where I write every 2-3 months, so now I'm writing in the "bridge" we call it, a nice 2nd story catwalk that overlooks the living room with a big picture window looking out on my chickens, my vegetable garden and the sunsets at night.

    It's still a construction zone (parts of it), especially the outside, since we're rebuilding it after a fire. But I've gotten used to it, and try to use it.

  2. Like Sharon, I do have a mild case of ADD (or a short attention span as my family calls it). So, I need someplace quiet to get away from it all. By quiet, I mean by myself, not necessarily silent.

    And I agree about Classical music. I like to listen to "Bolero" and "Ride of the Valkyries."

  3. Sharon, Greg, thanks so much for the comments. If work had not have been such a busy day I would have answered you much earlier. Thank you both for the musical suggestions. "My name is James Garcia Jr and I am addicted to iTunes". Yep, that's me. I will definitely look all of those up and add them to my iPod.
    Sharon, I wrote this piece on Monday, but could not get back to it until late yesterday. Then, not wanting to post without a photo, quickly looked around for something when I recalled that scene. I love that film. Thanks for the info/reminders. Also, those writing spaces of yours sound fantastic. Can't wait until it's your turn to host WW Christmas, so we can check it out. ;) What do you think, Greg?
    You guys have a great weekend...