Tabling this discussion

A while back, Cedar and I were chatting about the issues of setting up a new household, and she grumped at me that her brain wanted a desk to write at. Which was ridiculous, because it wasn’t necessary to have a desk to write. ..And I had to laugh, because what the backbrain wants has nothing to do with logic, and everything to do with the environment that makes it comfortable and productive.

After all, I can’t write in Microsoft Word, because it locks me up hard. Too many years of reports and bosses and professors before that. So I write in notepad, because my brain is happy that I’m “letting off steam and not doing Real Work”, and lets the words flow. And then there’s the walking treadmill desk. It’s incredibly hard to write action scenes, or scenes on the move, while sitting down. But if I’m up and moving, it becomes easier.

No, I don’t need a treadmill desk to write words on paper or screen. Except… except when the muse insists I do?

What are your writing setups? Does it vary by action or reaction scenes, or any other rhyme or reason?

26 comments

  1. Nothing so interesting. I write in Word in a chair. But it has to be the right chair. For years, I wrote in the upholstered flowered chair in my living room. Sitting there made me write (at first I wrote “right.” Maybe that was the better word?). Now I have an upholstered comfy chair in the study, so I mostly write there. Sometimes I go back to the living room, but mostly just to change things up. It’s not because I don’t want the flower chair to feel like I’ve abandoned it.

    I edit at my desk.

  2. I write a first draft by hand on an ordinary yellow legal pad, usually on the living room couch, but sometimes in a recliner or sitting up in bed. As I go I do a lot of “thinking out loud,” as it were, on scribble paper, working out details of the plot and action. Occasionally I have to throw out everything and return to start.

    Then I sit at the dining room table with my laptop and type the second draft into Word, revising as I go. Often this requires more thinking out loud, and sometimes going back to the yellow pad for a new scene or a complete rewrite of one.

    The story is pretty much done at this point apart from copy/line editing.

  3. Computer desk with two monitors, some cute comics on the side of the tower, and a half-dozen half-sized people demanding attention.
    When I have to be elsewhere– or I just can’t take it anymore– I take the laptop and hide, in which case my desk is my leg, crossed over to rest on the other knee, with the mouse on top of the number pad.

  4. Computer desk with a Das Keyboard and the laptop elevated so I don’t have to look down to see the screen (touch type). Or a Levenger notepad, annotation ruled, with the finest tipped pen I can buy, in cursive. Familiars works better on screen, but I can do otherwise. Merchant books, essays, and other things work on the notepad, but I can do otherwise. I’ve been using the Levenger pads since grad school, because they are PERFECT for things that need citations, archive location references, and other things. Yes, they are spendy. For me they are worth it, especially for things like travel writing or hard-core research where I will keep the notes for years and years.

    1. Finest tip is around 0.25mm but I find those too scratchy. For me, sweet spot is 0.38 to 0.5mm.

      As always pen type and paper make a difference – a 0.38mm Jetstream will normally write finer than a 0.38mm gel. Energel tends to be less scratchy (0.35mm needle point is wonderful)

      1. For writing on paper, I prefer 70-page college-ruled cheap notebooks, the kind you used to be able to pick up 10 for a dollar as a loss leader when all the school stuff went on sale. And .7 mm gel G2 pens; finer than that is too scratchy and spidery for me.
        …and you probably guessed it, my brain is thinking “You’re supposed to be taking notes, and instead you’re goofing off and daydreaming. See how much you can sneak in before you have to make a section marker and return to what will be on the test!”

        If I try writing on composition books or journals designed for the purpose, it’s like writing in Microsoft word. Vapor lock… Which is why, lovely as they are, I don’t own any leatherbound journals or cool moleskin notebooks.

        1. My handwriting is so small that I like the finer point. I know people who much prefer a good, solid fat point on their writing implement. I used to use spirals for poetry and school stuff, so my brain flips to “must be in verse.” That doesn’t need to be inflicted on the paying public. 😉

          Little composition books are perfect for impressions and notes on the go, like wandering through museums or listening to tour guides. They fit in a pocket.

          1. Yep. One of those cheapo pocket composition books goes literally everywhere with me. Every. Where. I got tired of losing my ideas, either because I didn’t have anything to write them on at the moment or because whatever random slip of paper I slipped into my pocket got lost or went through the laundry.

            I do fiction and other creative writing mostly in Liquid Story Binder on the laptop, on my little home desk. Not sure if it’s going to be usable in the future, as the dev hasn’t updated it for almost a decade and it’s pretty much zombie software at this point. That’ll be a sad day, because opening up LSB always gives me that “creative time” feeling.

          2. As noted, I’m generally in favor of small lines. However, I do have a couple fountain pens with broad nibs, and I have to say, they’re growing on me, especially when filled with ink that has a lot of shading (which isn’t obvious with a fine nib). But they’re an absolute disaster on typical copier paper.

            I’m also really liking my demonstrator fountain pens, where you can see the pretty ink sloshing around (TWSI 580ALR), but I’m not sure I’d recommend those to someone who is easily distracted…

        2. Writing on something that pretty is too stressful. I owned one such objet d’art for years before I figured out how to put it to good use. It’s now a bloom journal to make sure there are native flowers blooming all the time in my garden. There aren’t, but I’m working on it.

          1. I got a lot of the pretty journals, growing up.

            The one I kept is a “cute things the kids did/letters to the kids” book, and the rest have been given to my kids.

            The eldest is taping laminated flowers into hers, with notes. 😀

            1. I have pretty notebooks that I’ve started using, but then I didn’t keep them up like I meant to, so mostly they’re stressful to look at right now.

              This does not help with using any more of them, no.

          2. That’s a known problem for notebook lovers…it’s so hard to use the nice ones 🙂
            I’m trying not to do this, slowly using up all the nice notebooks I bought years ago.
            My kids each have a special one they’re saving: limited edition Pokemon Moleskine notebooks.

        3. You can still pick ’em up, you just have to wait until October and snipe the leftovers. 🙂 My record was a box of about 30 for a buck at an estate sale, though.

          I’m trying to train myself as the ideas pick up speed, but so far I canNOT write fiction on a keyboard. I do freelancing home-decor blogs and I can type 90 miles per hour on THOSE, but for fiction my brain goes into lock as soon as my fingers touch the keys. So far my backbrain is unsure whether or not laptop keys count as “keyboard”, and I’m desperately trying to trick it. 🙂

  5. I guess I’m lucky. I can write pretty much anywhere. But at home it’s a Herman Miller Aeron chair (bad back), and large screen monitor on a computer desk. Having said that, I’ve also written in bars, on airplanes, and on boats (not fun in any kind of seas)! Being partially deaf, I don’t use music as a mood setter, and the muse wouldn’t cooperate anyway… sigh

    1. That is an awesome skill and I wish I had it. My Calmer Half, when he has to format my first draft, wishes I had it. …I’ll go with what works for now.

  6. I write in pen in spiral notebooks on the living room couch (I have three going now, no organization, just keep grabbing whichever one is closest).
    I also write in Libre office or notepad in a Dell laptop on a desk in the living room. Microsoft Office delenda est.
    Not everything starts on paper, but everything I like ends up on the computer.
    I’ve had other desks or tables, but only the one in the living room works, I don’t know why. As for writing on paper, that can work other places, like in the car or at a cafe, but works best on the living room couch.
    I read things out loud all the time — sometimes other things I’ve written in the same world to get me working on my current WIP, most often the last part I’ve written before the part I’m working on. Or the part I’m working on to figure it out or edit it.
    I position myself like my characters, how they’re sitting, walking, how their face is moving, etc.
    Sometimes I pace in circles around the living room while I work things out in my head. That’s not necessarily related to action scenes though, as far as I can tell.

    1. Pacing while working things out in your head… Yep. I drive my wife crazy with that sometimes, walking back and forth on our creaky old floors, and I do laps around the hallways at work on an almost daily basis (if I drive my fellow cubicle farmers crazy, they’ve kept it to themselves).

  7. I’ve transitioned from writing in note books to all computer. But I still hand write notes and lists.

    I can write on my laptop, when I’m away from home.

    At home, it’s all in my office on my desktop, and often with the door closed. I have a fit desk, but I found that I move too much while pedaling to write. So I read for revision and editing, stopping to make changes on the laptop copy, to be transferred to the desk top later.

  8. I’m currently using Pages on my iPad, so I can write pretty much anywhere the mood hits.

  9. I’ve got a desk that is set up ergonomically to work for me, nice wide monitor and a good keyboard. I can write in Word, but it’s a challenge, Scrivener is much better. I like it a lot, as it’s simple like Notebook, but has spellcheck.

  10. This is one of the challenges I’m having with getting things done around the house. The last couple of years my wife has moved all of her work stuff to our bedroom. She is in the bedroom nearly constantly anymore. And she wants me to be next to her so that we can “talk” and “do stuff” together. But I can’t work sitting on the bed like she does. I can fold laundry sometimes, but even that I find bothersome. Stuff on the computer, or making phone calls, is very difficult to get done. I need to be sitting in a chair and have whatever I’m working on (computer, photos, reservations, etc.) on a table in front of me. Otherwise I just don’t feel comfortable and I’m easily distracted.

  11. I have a desktop at the office desk that I do a lot on, and a laptop that I use when i am at my temp job two days a week. I use a flash drive to walk my WIP back from one to the other. When I get back to the desktop always always copy files back, and let my scheduled backup send it offsite. There is no such thing as too many backups! Since I am pretty much a total pantser I don’t have a bunch of stuff worked out on a tablet or anything. I have a file that us usually called ‘Notes on project XX’ or similar to store any ideas that come up during the day. Since I do most of my creative work while I am asleep in that twilight state where you are not awake, but not really sleeping either, I usually write early in the morning.

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