LitReactor Photo Album: Show Us Your Writing Environment


For many writers, one of the most important parts of his or her process is environment

Some of us prefer to have a private little space to which we can disappear. Others need to feel the energy of other people, at coffee shops or parks. Some need sunlight while others require darkness. There's no right way to write, but each of us has our own special way of doing it. 

This is a new feature at the site: The LitReactor Photo Album. We'll ask you to take a photo of something. Then you can post it here and we'll discuss it. The purpose is to think and talk more about process--so much of the writing process is solitary, and we want to make it a little more social.

Anyone can participate, even if you write at a Starbucks. Just show us what you see when you write. 

And maybe we can learn something from each other--about a cool writing nook, or a snazzy office customization. 

If you want to play along, share a photo of your writing environment on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter account. And then link to to the tweet or the post here in the comments (or you can just embed the photo, though keep in mind that if your Facebook account is set to private, it might not show up).

Tell us a little bit about it--what is it called? Who else is allowed inside? Where are the bodies buried? And what does it provide to you, that no other environment can? 

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Kimber's picture
Kimber from Atlanta is reading The Every by Dave Eggers May 14, 2012 - 12:42pm

Lately, I've been writing on my front porch (photo: because, while I'm not a neat-freak by any stretch, I can't stand any clutter or mess around me at all when I'm working. I get really distracted, so if I'm in the house trying to write, I end up cleaning instead. Plus, the sunshine and fresh air do me good. There's lots of foot and bike traffic, so there's always somebody around if I feel like seeing other human beings and there's enough car traffic to create a whooshing wall of white noise.

I've tried the coffee shop route but I don't like the chatter around me. I don't like external words swirling around in my head and competing with my efforts to get my internal words on paper. Too many words. For that same reason, I can't write (or edit) well if I'm listening to music with lyrics. Instrumental stuff is fine.

C. Patrick Neagle's picture
C. Patrick Neagle May 14, 2012 - 1:01pm

Since I teach college English classes onbaord US Navy ships, that's where my writing space is. Sometimes I have a desk, and sometimes I don't, but I always have a lot of free time while we're sailing around. That downtime has allowed me to write the drafts for five novels in three years, even when I can barely get a chapter-a-month done when I'm at home (like now).

Here's the link to the pic (one of the good times, when I had a desk): My Shipboard Writing Space.



Renee Miller's picture
Renee Miller from Tweed, Ontario is reading The Wolf Gift May 14, 2012 - 2:10pm

You're gonna love this one. My office/garage:!/ReneeMJ/status/202143660085739520/photo/1 I screwed it up the first time because I didn't read your instructions properly. So, let me show you around, on the left is my "desk" which is full of crap. On the right is my "table," also full of crap. To the right of that table is a big file box, but it has a blanket filling half of it because my dog lays in it when he's keeping me company. But I know where everything is and it's very quiet. The lawn's seen better days. I need a new chair. The heater is my best friend in the winter because this is the garage, the UNHEATED garage, and it's usually below zero out there in the winter. 

It's the only place in the house (sort of) I can go and work without interruption. I just sit in the chair, prop my feet on a plastic chair in front, and open the laptop. I figure the awfulness of it just makes me work that much harder.

Laura Rammstein Dunlap's picture
Laura Rammstein... from Southern California is reading Clash of Kings May 14, 2012 - 2:11pm

I live in a small room.  My space takes up almost half of it.  I used to write at Starbucks, but as my writing grew, my writerly place had to transform along with it.  My words live amongst the clutter, between books for reference and research, and tucked underneath a sleeping cat.

Always cats.  There has to be cats.


.'s picture
. May 14, 2012 - 3:50pm

My writing environment. At night, I make coffee and gather my stack of legal pads and decipher the long hand scribbling into prose.

Jack Campbell Jr.'s picture
Jack Campbell Jr. from Lawrence, KS is reading American Rust by Phillipp Meyer May 14, 2012 - 4:05pm

This is my writing environment, The Dungeon. It's in my basement. There is no television, radio, or windows. The floor is concrete, the walls are bare except for a Half-Price Bookstore calendar and a whiteboard to track whatever I have submitted. There are a few hundred books on various shelves around the walls. The desk is very small, just big enough for my journals, a lamp, and my Neo (for first drafts) or my laptop (for re-writes).

It isn't the coziest area, nor what you would think of as an inspirational writing setting, but I am pretty productive when I write down there.


_'s picture
_ May 14, 2012 - 5:42pm

@ Renee – I love that pic! Keeping it real.

@Patrick – that’s cool. Looks like a place to get some real work done.

I can’t post my own pic- no phone, camera, facebook, etc… I write in bed alone, no music, food, or drink, practically lying down, knees up, laptop propped on my thighs, head on a pillow. Sometimes I move the screen closer to my face so it’s all I see. I think my ideal environment would be a sensory deprivation tank. (Love this title sequence!)

1979semifinalist's picture
1979semifinalist from California but living in NYC is reading Joe Hill's NOS4A2 May 14, 2012 - 7:24pm

Oh man, I love seeing other people's workspace. I find it kind of fascinating.

Here's mine:

Tiny since I live in NYC, but I try to keep it really organized since it's so small. I'm about 50% successful on that.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 14, 2012 - 7:38pm

Here's mine--it's the attic of my house. It's freezing in the winter and sweltering during the summer, but it's carpeted and quiet and comfortable. It also has an easy chair and three book cases.

My favorite part: See the wall above the computer that's all scribbled-on? That's dry erase board paint. That whole part of the wall, I can draw on and take notes and sketch things out. I like being able to work things out visually.

The stuff I used is called IdeaPaint and the whole thing cost me around $100 (with getting some primer), and then it takes a few days, between the sanding and the priming and letting it cure, but totally worth it. 

Renee Miller's picture
Renee Miller from Tweed, Ontario is reading The Wolf Gift May 15, 2012 - 10:13am

@Collins: Keeping it real - I like that. I shall use it. "It's not a dungeon, I'm just keeping it real." I used to write in bed, but I dropped the laptop so many times as I dozed, I thought I should stop doing that. :)

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks May 15, 2012 - 12:29pm

My desk is literally a crowded mess of everything I could need. This is the picture I tweeted:

Three colors of nail polish, french tip sticker guides for manicures, two-liters of soda from which I drink directly, my Parliaments, my Blackberry, my heavily organized and partitioned binder, and anything else I collect over the course of a day. My desktop background is a photo of my parent's recently bankrupted used car dealership taken by my boyfriend.

Dennis's picture
Dennis from Los Angeles is reading Necroscope by Brian Lumley May 15, 2012 - 2:57pm

I get a lot of my screenwriting done at a local coffee shop in LA called The Bourgeois Pig. They have this back room, decorated to look like some cavernous forrest in middle earth. And there's this sort of treehouse booth I like to sit in, tucked away from everyone else. I put my feet up on the opposite chair and write all day. Here's the inside view of the booth and its ceiling.

It looks more cozy than the picture does it justice.

Kwaku Osei-Afrifa's picture
Kwaku Osei-Afrifa from London is reading 'Gardens of the Sun' by Paul McAuley, 'The Hyperion Omnibus' by Dan Simmons and 'Tell-All' by Chuck Palahniuk May 25, 2012 - 6:19am

Here is a picture of my writing environment that I took today:

I don't have a name for it unfortunately, it's just where I spend most of my day at. Just to the right is my xbox, tucked under that shelf and usually the computer screen would be on the left shelf and a tv that I play the xbox on would be on the right shelf. But I gave my TV to my brother as a temp before he gets one for his new house and then the desk will be returned to its two screen gamer den status. I used to type wherever on my laptop, but since I got this desktop, it's felt so much nicer to sit up and not have to hunch over a screen - though I miss lying in bed to write.

Kevin Maddox's picture
Kevin Maddox from Melstrand, Mi is reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut May 30, 2012 - 8:34am
Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore May 30, 2012 - 12:12pm

Most of the time I write in my recording studio, which I renovated a couple years ago with a separate desk for writing, to face away from the distractions of the music workstation. Except now there's a 17" MacBook Pro where that little 12" dealy used to be. More pics here.

Razvan Teodor Coloja's picture
Razvan Teodor Coloja June 18, 2012 - 2:20pm

My favourite place for writing is a local bar here in my town, but haven't been there in ages. While at home I write in the bathroom. It's the most isolated part of the appartment and the smoke doesn't get out in the rest of the house. I'm a heavy smoker and my girlfriend is slightly asthmatic.


mariaalbert's picture
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