Posted by: kimberlysullivan | March 23, 2012

Where do you write?

When I read articles or interviews about famous authors, I’m always interested to read about their writing routines. It seems that many have special places where they write for a set amount of hours. Most seem to crave quiet and an absence of distraction.

I envy this. When I look at my own writing habits, they sound, well… a  lot less disciplined. Then again, writing isn’t my main profession. At work, I am disciplined and – when I require complete silence – I can shut my office door and block out distractions. Deadlines are deadlines. Having worked as a journalist early on in my career taught me that they’re  sacred.

But writing is something I do in my free time. I don’t mean to sound as if I’m not at all disciplined. I write quite quickly and have often run scenes through my mind before I type them onto my screen… and yet…

My children are still pretty young and still in the phase where they need me ( I am far too aware this won’t last for very long). I feel guilty taking too much time away from them, so I find myself writing in snatches – getting in a few paragraphs here and there while my older son practices the trumpet, or a Lego construction is taking shape around my laptop or a full scale battle enactment goes on around me.

My writing space definitely does NOT look like this!

I’ve grown oblivious to noise. I’ve had to. I don’t have my own office at home. I’m often interrupted to break up an argument or to answer a homework question. My concentration’s not broken for long and I’m able to jump back into the story the moment I’m given the chance.

But I find I don’t mind these snatches of time. Somehow they help me to concentrate even more when I have longer stretches for working, knowing that uninterrupted blocks of time are worth their weight in gold. When my family goes to bed, I often find myself with a  few hours of late-night silence and it seems a precious gift.

I’m sure this haphazard writing schedule is not ideal, but at this stage in my life it’s this or nothing. And I can – mostly – handle it.

But it makes me wonder how many other writers escape to their fictional worlds as chaos reigns around them?  Does it hinder or promote creativity? I suspect that there are as many writing disciplines  as there are writers. What’s your writing method?


  1. I always need a feeling of intense privacy…as in no doorbells, no phones, no dogs barking, no one trying to get a hold of me because they are all asleep…Sadly, the hours between midnight and 9am are amazing for me…As for my work space it is never organized, and weirdly as long as I placed everything where I can remember, “Oh yeah, it’s somewhere in that huge stack of papers!” But if someone moves stuff around on me it’s awful!

  2. I can do some writing with the kids around but nothing I need to emerge myself in (ie: my novel in progress). I work at the kitchen island and because of that they always find me – sometimes I’m so deep in thought I don’t hear them. I just say yeah, sure, go ahead. Let’s just say, there has been more than once when the kids have had Ice cream for dinner!

  3. Love this entry! I have craved my “Own Space” for years now. I even have a pin board on Pinterest dedicated to it. However, I write much like you. In the midst of chaos. Funny how my life runs around the chaos of my 3 boys AND my 120 middle school students. When I do get a quiet moment (usually in the bathroom!) I cherish it. I know one day, when I am wrinkled and barely walking, the quiet will bother me. I will want the screaming of my boys back. So, I have to learn to take what I get and work around it.

    Happy chaos-writing!

  4. Thanks for these! I really love to see how others work. Amy – I understand you. After midnight, when the house is silent, I often tend to be inspired and get lots done. But I often regret it the next morning after little sleep! And Janet – your kids, too? They’re too smart for us, knowing we’ll say yes when we’re distracted. I may have to change tactics when they’re old enough to ask for the car keys…

  5. Chaos reigns supreme! LOL I write in my living room on my laptop, purposely so the kids can come ask me a question, tell me about their day. I don’t want to be holed up in my office away from them (I work from home for my day job, so I do have a home office). Too soon, my children will head off to start their own lives. I don’t want my writing to take away from what time I have left with them.

    Your book is terrific and, not to sound immodest, I think mine is great too. I would say, chaos doesn’t detract from the creative process, just makes the words come out more slowly!😉

  6. Thanks, Melinda, my fellow chaos-writer. With three little boys, I’m guessing your Zen-like writing space doesn’t look anything like the photo in my post either. : ) We’d probably be bored with all that silence, right?

  7. Thanks, Chantel! And since I’ve been lucky enough to have read your fantastic novel and Melinda’s, I have to agree that multi-tasking moms mired in domestic chaos and writing in limited snatches of time are still able to turn out some pretty impressive work. At least there’s a method to the madness…

  8. Being a male, I’m incapable of – and not expected to multi-task. I need silence or at least no interruptions. A ten second distraction is as good (or bad) as an hour away. I admire anyone who can turn it off and on at a moments notice. I need a clear run at it. Just my way.


  9. Hi Travis! Thanks for the comment. Your way is definitely the smart way. But speaking to my female writing friends, I suspect there are many of us who need to write alongside the chaos or risk not writing at all. At least it gives me a great ‘excuse’ when my writing makes absolutely no sense… although that may happen just as well without the chaos. : )

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