Finding the Perfect Place to Write – a Field Guide to Procrastination by Catharine Bramkamp

The Perfect Place to WriteLet’s welcome back monthly columnist Catharine Bramkamp as she shares with us about “Finding the Perfect Place to Write – a Field Guide to Procrastination.” Enjoy!


From wanting to know if James Patterson uses a special pen to wondering what kind of perfect program Jon Green has loaded into his computer, we think that if only the specific talisman  for good writing is identified, then purchased, possession will make us instantly famous.  Except no matter what kind of special pen you own, you still must use it.

The question is where?

Does environment make a difference in writing quality?

Where do writers write – and does that environment make a difference?  Do you need to write about the mid-west while you live in  Paris? Do you need to write about Paris because you are in Paris?  Do you need to live within sight of the Mississippi , or Lake Woebegone  in order to write about the characters there in? 

The perfect room of our own.

We  convince ourselves, as well as our loved ones that if only we had that room of our own (and don’t forget an independent income!) we would finally, FINALLY, be able to write that novel, that poem, that screen play.  But finding that perfect space can be the ultimate distraction from your work.  A fun one, but a distraction none the less.

Elizabeth Stark wrote an excellent blog on the subject, to paraphrase here, new writers often  get worked up about our space  because it’s easier to see and feel our lack of creative environment than to admit to a lack of imagination.  It’s difficult to reach into our imagination and pull out the story that is crouched in the dark right corner of our brain.  Better to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and buy a pretty lamp to illuminate that corner.

It is so much more fun to construct a separate shed in the back yard and wire it for both electricity as well as sound and WiFi, and search HOUZZ for decorating ideas, search Pinterest for a few more, hunt down the perfect desk unit on E-bay.  But the pursuit of a writing space is not writing.

What kind of noise do you need to do your best work?

Okay, you say, I give, I’ll just go out and write.  Excellent idea, where do you go?  How much noise does it take to create?

Some writers need complete silence, wrapping their heads in wet towels to deaden the noise.  Some gravitate to coffee houses in search of ambient noise and the hiss of the   espresso machine (which for me brings back happy memories of mornings in Italy).  Some play music, some search out the perfect ambient noise: a room over a noisy highway, an exuberant neighborhood bar,  a hormone riddled  college library.

JK Rowling  purportedly wrote in coffee houses because they were heated and her house was not.

Jane Austen wrote in the parlor and cleverly hid her work whenever anyone walked in, I’m sure to postponed the inevitable question, “oh, are you writing about me?”  I would not want Jane Austen to write about me.

Stephen King writes under the stairs of his home.

Edith Wharton wrote in bed, dropping the finished pages to the floor for her assistant to gather up and type them up. (It was good to be Edith).

Sound it out

Experiment with sound, especially if you’ve never considered it as part of your creative process. Maybe you are blocked from writing because the silent house is too big and too lonely, a Starbucks may be the perfect answer.  Or maybe you are over stimulated at your regular job, so the library becomes a refuge and the trigger that you can now create.  The Muse is not concerned with where you are, she just wants to know where to find you – day after day, week after week.

As Stark points out and I have pointed out, and your partner may have muttered under his or her breath: there is no ultimate, all-best-sellers-write-here place to write.

There is value in finding a sitting position that doesn’t strain your back.  Value in a  space that is comfortably warm or cool.  Value in a flat surface for the lap top or note book.  Finding a writing space that delivers just the right silence, noise or a flowing combination of the two is a noble pursuit.  For about fifteen minutes.

You may already know what kind of environment you need to create your best work, you would just rather put off the writing by continuing the search for the perfect space.  And if that’s your art, that’s your art.

But don’t call it writing.


Catharine Bramkamp

Popular author/award winning poet/ podcaster/ champion of Newbie Writers everywhere.

Catharine Bramkamp is the co-producer of Newbie Writers Podcast that focuses on newer writers and their concerns. She is a successful writing coach and author of a dozen books including the Real Estate Diva Mysteries series, The Future Girls series (Eternal Press) and editor of the Redwood poetry collection, And the Beats Go On. She holds two degrees in English, and is an adjunct university professor.

A California native, she divides her time between the Wine Country and the Gold Country.

She and her husband have parented two boys past the age of self-destruction and into the age of annoying two word text missives.

Author Links:

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Web site/blog

Twitter: @cbramkamp




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