• Your Ideal Writing Space

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 31 comments

    Discussion questions: What does your ideal writing space — or maybe your ideal writing retreat — look like? Is it in your home, or away from home? Describe your surroundings. What are you writing on? What are you writing with? How much contact do you have with the outside world? How many hours per day do you write? For how long are you there?


    I sometimes have this fantasy of wintering in a log cabin in the middle of the north woods in my home state of Wisconsin, just me and a typewriter and a pile of notebooks and novels, and for three months straight I do nothing but bang out prose and read books. No internet, no TV or phone, no newspapers (what’s a newspaper?). No contact with the outside world.

    In early December I move in, and I emerge in early March hopelessly pale but refreshed, invigorated, and full of creative energy, having finished both books I’ve been writing and having read all two dozen or so books in my to-read pile.

    I think most writers harbor such fantasies. The reality of it is probably closer to Jack Torrance than to, say, Justin Vernon (and even his was no picnic). I’d probably be full-on nutso by Christmastime, and what little writing I’d get done would probably be hot garbage, fit only for use as fuel for the fire.

    But whatever the reality, I think the fantasy comes from a desire for two things we as writers rarely feel we have enough of.

    Time and space.


    Space Invaders

    We here at WBN have covered time, again and again and again. But we don’t talk as much about space, both literal space and figurative.

    For whatever reason, I work better in confined spaces. To the point where, until it was vetoed (note the passive voice), I tried to turn our coat closet into a writing hovel.

    I usually write on the sofa. It’s far from ideal; it’s up against the wall in an open-layout kind of room.

    My desk is in the bedroom, another open room. I face a white wall. And I struggle to feel creative at the desk where I do my nine-to-five.

    Sometimes I try coffee shops and bars, but rarely do they work well, and they’re hard on the wallet. I’ve also tried a few of NYC’s POPS, privately owned public spaces. I love the idea of them, but I haven’t found one yet that works for me.

    When the weather cooperates, I can sometimes write successfully on a particular bench in Riverside Park. The weather last cooperated in, I believe, October.

    And as far as figurative space goes, well, it’s hard to find that in this city. The moment you leave your living space, you’re surrounded by humans. And wherever you go, they go too. It’s a large part of what makes this city vibrant and exciting.

    It also makes it difficult to find a peaceful, quiet space.


    Your Ideal Space

    I know. Poor baby, wah wah, can’t find a good writing spot. But there’s no denying environment plays an important role in creation. And somewhere out there is my perfect writing environment. Yours, too.

    I want to know what that environment looks like.

    So, what is your ideal writing space? Is it in your home, or is it away from your home? Describe it for us: the layout, the furnishings, the view.

    Are there other people around, or are you completely alone? Are you on a writing retreat for a specific and finite amount of time, or is this your everyday/forever space?

    Compare it to the writing space you have now. What are the major differences? And can you think of any way(s) to make your existing writing space closer to your ideal writing space?

    Or do you feel like environment doesn’t even play a large role in your creativity and your process? If so, feel free to rub it in our faces talk about that, too.

    Share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you want to share a photo of what your current writing space looks like, and/or some kind of mock-up of your ideal space, you can email that to me at david@writebynight.net, and maybe I’ll run a follow-up post containing them.



    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

    0 0 votes
    Article Rating
    Notify of

    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    Barbara Mealer

    Wow. My Ideal writing space would be that cabin in the middle of nowhere. I would want internet for research and some contact with the outer world. Seeing as how that isn’t going to happen, I’ll be creating my next to ideal space soon. It will be a bedroom which will be converted into an office. The window will be looking over the back yard (which is really a desert wilderness since we let nature do it’s thing instead of taming it) I’ll have a nice light colored corner desk and my new laptop (I keep going between a Microsoft… Read more »

    David M Inverso

    Thomas Jefferson carried a foldable lap desk with a box for pen and ink, a man prepared to write anywhere. On heavy writing days he carried a goose under one arm for extra quills. You can tell this is true because the struggling goose is why all his Ss look like Fs. :-p David, you certainly put in concerted effort to find a writing space. I hope you find one. Not sure how big public or college libraries are in your area but some have desks in out of the way places where you can cut valuable illustrations out of… Read more »


    The ever so common dilemma of the ‘writer’ who contends with the space around them. The mind is a phenomena and processes billions of ideas in a millisecond – to support the idea of that being interrupted by background noise seems to be a challenge for many of us. I say, however, that in having my own experience of both, the ‘secluded’ space and the out in open, public space with which to write in or be inspired by, I write best or absorb best when I am in communion with God. I do this by spending time with Him,… Read more »

    Jennifer Palmer

    My ideal writing space is a large room, or shed in a backyard that has room for a desk with computer space, books, a comfortable chair with footstool, and a tea kettle. There is a window looking on a green space or some lovely bit of nature. Music from my computer is part of the atmosphere if it matches my mood and is in sync with what I’m writing. I like to have pictures, even if they are pictures from calendars of past years but favorite places. I would write my requisite meaningful 1,000 words or more, at least five-six… Read more »

    Jerry Schwartz

    I write in two different spaces. My computer is in our basement, and that’s where the writing is reified. It’s not a very comfortable environment: it is an unfinished basement with exposed pipes and ductwork. I am almost always listening to music, but I can’t do that and write at the same time. I can hear the furnace, the running of water through the pipes, and the chickens clucking next door. None of that bothers me. It’s structured noise, sounds that my mind feels obliged to decode, that gum up the works. The other space is everywhere. It’s like daydreaming.… Read more »

    adrienne leslie

    my breakfast room –it’s a small round room that looks out on a big city street. I begin writing at 4:30 am- the quietest time in our home– so I can catch the sun rise. by 7:30, the city stretches itself awake and the sun’s shards white out the computer screen. Until the soft darkness of dusk, when I write again, the room joins the rest of our home, as just another room in a little house on a big city street–


    My ideal space would be a room all to myself that I didn’t have to share. A space with lots of windows looking out on a lovely scene. It wouldn’t have aimless clutter but organized stuff. I would have lots of time and not have to share a computer with anyone. It would be my private special space where I can get in contact with my ideas. Oh, it should have a rocking chair and music, classical preferred.


    Now I share a room with my retired husband. There is wall to wall junk.There are file cabinets, but there’s clutter in front of them, so I can’t use them. Papers everywhere and other stuff. My husband hoards things, all kind of things. I’m trying to get him to get rid of a lot of it, so we can move into something all on one floor. At least I can still get to the computer.


    Elizabeth, if you can write in a cluttered setting, I should be able to write anywhere. I’m encouraged to put pen to paper. It’s been a year due to downsizing and now the move. My excuses have all disappeared and you have inspired me to begin once again. I have to say though, at this moment my pod is in storage, I’m living with someone, and my manuscripts are in the pod. ICloud, here I come.


    Thanks for the comment, Linda. I still long for the uncluttered living room that I had some time ago when we lived in a different city. I made my husband keep his stuff in the basement where I only went to do laundry. Here, his “stuff” is everywhere, probably because he’s retired and has more time to spread it around and gain more. I’m thinking of hiring a small company that helps hoarders unload stuff. I hope my husband will go along with it.


    I’ve thought about writing what life is like living with hoarder or how this might effect kids. His stuff was always in the basement when the kids were still at home. I might start taking notes on the things that bug me most and the falls I’ve taken over his stuff. I have the name and address of a company nearby who deal with hoarders. I haven’t called them yet, because I keep hoping we can take care of it ourselves. wishful thinking.


    I vote for the cabin. I would get scads of work done with no distractions! Instrumental music in the background is fine, especially if it’s from the time period of my novel or what I think my characters would listen to. Playlist music does not work; it just whisks me straight out of thought and into the song. For me, it’s not at all where I write but the rule of three–no boob tube, no phone, no email. David, could you move your desk to a window? How about one of those coffee tables where the top pulls up into… Read more »

    david lemke

    I have my ideal writing space. My home office is decorated I want it to be. (My wife has zero input. She has the rest of the house.) It crowed with about a 1000 books, a globe, model ships, a desk I rebuilt years ago, a computer desk I built, a credenza I built, a book cart I built. One wall is a massive book case full of books two deep. I have two computers now. My office is built into the ground. The windows are literally ground level. Deer walk by occasionally. I’d post pictures if I could. One… Read more »

    Diana Rangel

    I’m two years away from my ideal writing space. A condo or small house by the ocean, so I can hear the waves singing all day long while I pound away on my laptop or switch to my fountain pen and write on yellow legal pads (sometimes purple if I can find them). In two years I’ll be an empty-nester and I’ve already vocalized I’m leaving the comfort of being in the same place all my life. But until then, my ideal writing space is at my round oak kitchen table, looking out my back door at my patio and… Read more »


    Diana, love your ideal writing spot. Now that I’m back in Maine, I can write at the beach, where I use to write. It’s the perfect spot. We can create our perfect spot though in our minds. When I think of being in a cabin in the woods, it really does not inspire me. If I was that sucluded I would lose the desire to write. Yet, when I think of the cabin, that inspires me. God Bless.

    stephen Glick

    MY IDEAL WRITING SPACE ,, WOULD BE FROM A THIRD STORY WINDOW LOOKING OUT OVER LAKE Superior with wood walls and displays of all my wonderful corporate achievements .So I am working on the view.
    prost, Steve


    In the past, my ideal writing space was the library. I found imagination springing from the large windows overlooking the garden. Inside I was surrounded by rows and rows of books. I enjoyed seeing people stuffed in chairs with a favorite book. With me, I had my notebook and pen and either a bottle of water or a cup of coffee. Once I began to write I did not see the people or the rows of books. I did not hear anything except my own imagination. Hence, I began to write. Once the writing began I was submerged in my… Read more »

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x