Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Location, Location, Location

By Anne Mohr Okay, I’m not trying to sell you a prime piece of real estate. And, before I start, I want to mention, opinions are like, well, you know . . . everyone has one and this is mine. By now we all have a pretty good idea of what a story’s setting can do to affect even the nature of our characters. Geographical location - small town as opposed to a booming city and long dark musty hallways versus sunshine lit rooms - can set the stage for how our characters feel and act, but, what of the location of where we writers choose to create our stories?
Wouldn't it be great if we could all have what Stephen King has, a spacious private office where we can escape and create our great novels? For many, this isn’t possible. The crystal ball, however, can be easy enough to acquire. (Yes, that is a crystal ball on the desk, right next to the Jack in the box.) If you are into that sort of thing, depending on one’s frame of mind, it can help suck in that good energy out there in the universe and channel it into your psyche. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a private office at two of my previous homes, but I have to admit the space did little to help further my writing career. When the muse visits and I am compelled to get an idea down on paper before it pops out of my head, it doesn’t matter where I am. This would be a good time to divulge that using any implement (including eye liner when I didn’t have a pen handy) and any kind of paper, such as bar napkins, has resulted in years' worth of notes stuffed into a folder marked "miscellaneous story notes". A recent look through this treasure trove of ideas taught me that what might have been a brilliant thought at the time amounted to scribbled lines that didn’t add up to much of anything. Questions like, “Now what did I mean by this?” and “Well, this sounds good but I have no idea where I planned for it to go,” abounded. Also, I had a heck of a time reading my own handwriting.
Now, when it comes to working on the manuscript, what matters most? A fantastic office is insignificant if your head isn’t in the right place. It really isn’t about the space where you sit and write. It’s mostly about the space between your ears. When you’ve decided that nothing will get in the way of your process then you will have reached the place where you can write without challenge. ♥ Bio: Anne Mohr has been a member of RWA/NYC since 1993. Having lived in Fort Lee, New Jersey most of her life, she recently relocated to California, just because. Currently she is a real estate agent in both California and New Jersey. Many of her colleagues ask her to help write property descriptions and all of her clients love her emails. She writes as Jacqueline Stewart, Helen St. James and Max St. James and is published in short fiction (magazines.) She continues her work on “the book.”


  1. Great post, Anne! I don't have a specific place that works for me when it comes to writing, but I do require changes of scenery. I go from the desk to the couch to the dining room table to the bed to our building's amenity center to long as I don't have a lot of other stuff hanging over my head, I can write anywhere. If I DO have stuff hanging over my head, well, it still doesn't matter where I am, I'll be completely distracted by those things and won't be able to write until they are out of the way.

  2. Room of one's own? I'd be grateful for a computer of one's own! That corner of the house we ironically call our 'home office' happens to be located in a playroom shared by four small children, which means that chair access is usually complicated by a tangle of Thomas tracks and pony paddocks. But still the writing goes on. As Anne pointed out, when the story's bursting out of your head, it doesn't matter where you're sitting, or how sticky the keyboard is.

    That being said, I wouldn't mind a little freakin' privacy once in a while. (Paging Santa...?)

  3. For "serious" writing (i.e. more than just jotting down a few quick notes or sentences), I need a comfortable desk, an ergonomic chair and a full-sized keyboard. And preferably complete silence. Unfortunately, I'm not the kind of person who can sit in Starbucks with a laptop and "create". (Though since I don't own a laptop, I've never actually tried.) Fortunately, however, I live alone so I can control my environment pretty well. I can't imagine trying to write with "little ones" underfoot!

  4. I'm behind on my blog reading. Didn't even remember mine was posted. Thanks for the great comments!

  5. My own office? That would be a lovely dream. My writing space is in the make shift office in a corner of my bedroom. I find it hard to write in public coffee houses. I usually leave those places to do editing. Otherwise my brainstorming takes place down at the boardwalk.