“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”
Whatever works, works. When it comes to putting pen to paper or fingers to keys, finding the right place to work can be challenging. Some people love working in cafes, others need quiet; some get their best ideas while walking, others while running. Just recently, Writer’s Digest magazine featured a story by Celia Blue Johnson, the creative director of Slice, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit literary magazine and the author of Odd Type Writers: From Joyce and Dickens to Wharton and Welty, the Obsessive Habits and Quirky Techniques of Great Authors. Here are a few of Celia’s findings:
Wallace Stevens: He served for years as vice president of the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. and walked 2.5 miles every weekday to his office, composing poetry as he went. “I write best when I can concentrate, and do that best while walking.”
Gertrude Stein: For our gal Gertrude, the driver’s seat of her Model T Ford proved to be a perfect place to write; she was especially fond of shopping expeditions around Paris, which seemed to stoke her creative fires. While her partner, Alice B. Toklas, ran errands, Stein would sit happily ensconced in their parked car and write.
DH Lawrence: DH liked to be outdoors while he wrote, preferably beneath a shady tree. Wherever he traveled, he managed to find a trunk to support him, from pine trees in New Mexico to great firs in Germany’s Black Forest. “The trees are like living company.”
Agatha Christie: Agatha must have found water stimulating. When she had her mansion renovated, she made two important demands of her architect: “I want a big bath, and I need a ledge because I like to eat apples.” Agatha wasn’t going for a home spa; she liked to sit in a big Victorian tub and munch on apples while she constructed her plots. On the other hand, instead of hopping into a tub, every morning Benjamin Franklin took what he called “tonic baths” in the open air of his bedroom — he’d shed his clothes and work in the buff for an hour or so.
All of this just goes to show that our muses know no bounds. Have any great writer workplace stories? I love to hear them. Write on!