Where I Write

My writing studio catches north light. The sun doesn’t shine brightly into my space in the morning, all the better to see my computer screen without squinting.

But when I need a change, I sneak into Cliff’s art studio flooded with eastern light after he leaves for his coffee shop “office.” He says light energizes him.

He’s still there . . . I’ll wait.


Where and How They Write

George Bernard Shaw, well known for the play Pgymalion on which My Fair Lady is based, depended on a country setting for his inspiration. Here is his house in Hertfordshire.

Home of Geroge Bernard Shaw
Credit: Escape to the Country Collection, Episode 22, Hertfordshire County


Peek into his studio that features a movable foundation and a phone to deliver room service.

Click below to see his studio revolving on a turntable – stunning, I’d say.

George Bernard Shaw Writing Studio


Emily Carr, British Columbian artist and writer, irritated her sisters when she took up too much writing space in the dining room of their grand Victorian house. Emily talked them in to giving her space in the barn loft.

Here is her caravan, which she could move to a choice spot and set up shop.

Emily Carr caravan Interior, cot and chair
“One night I had a dream of greenery…weighted with sap, burning green in every leaf, every scrap of it vital.”   1942


May Sarton, poet, novelist, and journalist, apparently didn’t mind a messy desk or spaces darkened with curtains partly drawn.


Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, encouraged her students (including my son Joel Beaman) at Columbia College Chicago to vary their settings for creative work and do something else when the well runs dry.

Her book was made into a movie about the marriage of a woman and a man with a rare genetic disorder that causes him to involuntarily time travel.

She suggests,

Sometimes when you’re focusing on a problem head on, it is very difficult to solve it. And when you’re in a sideways drift, it comes. Often it is much easier to work on something when you are not actually working on it!

She often wrote at night but moved her manuscript around the house to experience the punch of energy a new site gave her, recalls Joel from her lectures.


Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, says she has two desks.

On one desk there’s a computer that is not connected to the Internet. On the other desk is a computer that is connected to the Internet. You can see the point of that!


Sherrey Meyer, writer and friend   Husband Bob has constructed a hexagonal writing studio for her in a leafy cove close to their house. Inspiring floor plan for an inspired space, don’t you think!


Light or Dark – a Preference?

Research supports both viewpoints for the creative life. I was surprised to find so many arguments for dim light as a preference, including this from The Daily Mail.

Barbara Brown Taylor explores darkness (the physical and psychological kind as well as the spiritual and theological sort) in her New York Times bestseller Learning to Walk in the Dark. Readers should be prepared to have their notions about the value of light and dark challenged. I know I did. So inspired, I read the book twice. Here is my review on Goodreads.


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Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge    ~ Psalm 19:2


Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.   ~ Psalm 139:12


Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.              ~ Madeleine L’Engle, A Ring of Endless Light


What is your preference for creative activity: writing, painting, cooking, sewing, or something else? Can you add to the examples here?


Congrats:  Mary Beth Martin is the lucky winner of Lucinda Miller’s memoir Anything But Simple. Thanks to all who participated to make this the most-viewed post.


Coming next: Mennonite Girls Go Camping