On Reading: The Importance of Writing Space {with Giveaway}

by Guest Contributor


Editor’s Note: We are happy to welcome guest contributor Syrie James, author of The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen (linked to Jennifer’s review), discussing the importance of her writing space. Check out her thoughts (and my review of her fun new novel), then leave a comment below to enter to win your own copy.

Image courtesy of Indiapiedaterre

I have an office upstairs in my house, with windows overlooking our back garden and the treetops and rooftops of the neighborhood. The room is filled with light and lined with wall-to-wall bookcases that are stuffed with books. It includes a comfy white couch for lounging (and thinking) and a big L-shaped desk with space for writing notes by hand as well as working at my computer. Because it’s at the back of the house, it’s very quiet—in every way, the perfect environment in which to write.

Two other important parts of the equation are my ergonomic leather desk chair—an old friend for 25 years (parts of which are sadly in need of stitching, but I can’t part with it for even a minute) and my articulating ergonomic armrests, which make it possible for me to work at the computer for hours on end without a repetitive stress injury. I do have a laptop, enabling me to work other places if absolutely necessary, but 99.99% of the time I write in my home office, and I’d rather not write anywhere else.

I marvel at those who can compose while sitting in a coffee shop, with music or TV on in the background, or while family life is happening all around them. I need absolute silence to write. For many years my husband and I shared a home office, which worked out fine because in the past he was away at work all day. A few years ago, however, his schedule changed and he started coming home hours earlier, while I was still writing. I’d be in 1801 in the middle of a scene with my characters chatting away in my head, and suddenly this wonderful man (who I adore with all my heart) would walk in and sit down at his desk and want to listen to music! Or breathe! Or (can you believe it) talk to me! To be wrenched back to the present and be obliged to answer a question coherently—it destroyed my train of thought entirely. It would not do.

We solved the problem when our grown sons both moved out. We turned one of their rooms into Bill’s study. Now we each have our own private working space. We reserve conversation until I stop to make dinner, and Bill can listen to music (or breathe) whenever he likes!

Where do you write best? Leave a comment and let us know, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Syrie Jame’s latest book. Or just tell us why you’d like to win! We’ll announce the winner in our giveaway column on January 16.The giveaway is closed.

Syrie James is the bestselling author of eight critically acclaimed novels, including The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen, The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Brontë, Dracula My Love, Nocturne, Forbidden, and The Harrison Duet: Songbird and Propositions. Her books have been translated into eighteen foreign languages. In addition to her work as a novelist, she is a screenwriter, a member of the Writers Guild of America, and a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. She lives with her family in Los Angeles, California. Connect with her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Karen January 6, 2013 at 12:32 am

I tend to write in our home office, but I’d love a quiet little cottage in the backyard to do my writing. There’s way too many distractions inside the house.


2 diane January 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I write best in the quiet den overlooking the peaceful backyard. This story is captivating and wonderful.


3 ellie January 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm

When I write the most conducive spot in the house is a small room which we have made into a study. Cozy, warm and special. Thanks for this fascinating peek.


4 Dawn January 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

I used to be able to write in coffee shops. Now I covet quietness and crave my own writing space. I just want shelves for my books…
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5 Kara January 6, 2013 at 8:36 pm

When I’m writing, I’m like Ms. James, I need complete quiet. Usually I’m in my room as I can close the door and concentrate. I too cannot imagine writing anything coherently in a coffee shop or bookstore or anywhere with people! :)
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6 Annie January 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful post. The book interests me greatly for is uniqueness. A haven where I write is a spot in my bedroom, secluded and roomy.


7 amyc January 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I live on a mountain and in the middle nowhere and I love to be on the deck out back while I read or write.


8 pearl January 6, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Writing requires peace and serenity. Therefore a cute area designated for this purpose located adjacent to the guest room is perfect.


9 Amy B. January 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Most of the time I would choose the bar/countertop in my kitchen. Thank you for the giveaway!


10 Jennifer January 15, 2013 at 9:26 pm

Amy–you won this book! Congrats. Please reply to this email with your shipping info.
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11 Margaret January 7, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I am a HUGE Jane Austen fan and would LOVE to win this!



12 Staci A January 10, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I’d love to say somewhere quiet, but it’s usually in the playroom with kids being crazy!


13 Stephanie January 11, 2013 at 2:45 pm

I generally find myself most able to write when I’m home alone, in my office. However, sometimes inspiration finds me at work, or as I’m trying to sleep in the middle of the night!
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14 Sheri January 12, 2013 at 8:15 pm

I would love to win because Syrie’s latest book sounds very interesting and I would love to read it!!


15 Shirley Amendt August 9, 2014 at 9:29 am

I write in my home office, but inspiration comes anywhere and any time, frequently in the shower. Distractions are a problem and sometimes a blessing. When I come back to my writing and look at the last line, the next line is somehow there in my head waiting to be written down.


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