By Elle Casey
As a writer, I’m often asked where I work, where the writing literally gets done. Do I have an office? Am I one of those people who works on a computer in Starbucks? Do I write in bed wearing my pajamas?
My answer is yes. Yes, to all of that. After three and a half years of writing for a living, I looked back and realized something about myself: I’m one of those people who needs to mix things up a bit to keep it fresh and fun. It’s a theme that’s played out my entire life, but until I was asked this question several times and sat down to write this article, I never put two and two together.
From the time I started working for a living at age 18, I’ve never been content to work the same job for more than a few years. Once I’ve mastered a thing and it becomes rote, I get antsy and have to move on and start all over with something new, something that challenges me and forces me outside of my comfort zone. For years that earned me the label “flaky”. Thank goodness today it means I have a ton of personal background to use in my books! Seriously, though, I was stoked to find out that being a writer means I get to step outside that comfort zone, (for me the “not very interesting zone”) while remaining in the same career, over and over. That’s the beauty of working in a creative field: those boring rules don’t apply to us. And, believe me, I take full advantage of that little benefit.
Not only do I like to write in many genres and use several writing styles, telling stories from first person and third person, using single or alternating POVs, I also write stand-alones and series, short stories and screenplays. I’ll try anything once.
I prefer it when my workday is a little unpredictable and not set in stone. I think it helps keep the creative process sparkly to shake things up and see things from different perspectives. Hugh Howey wrote an article for his blog called False Summits recently that really rang a bell with me. He speaks about traveling the same route every day for a period of time and said that “…as I became familiar with the journey, my brain would shut off and coast.” For me, the same can be said of the writing process. Writing a book is like taking a journey for me, and if I make the same journey using the same route every day –i.e. writing in the same place, in the same genre, using the same style– after a while, my brain shuts off and so does the creative process. It’s no longer sparkly; it’s dull and boring and no one wants to read what comes out of that place, believe me.
Being a writer, I’m also an emotional person. I have my moods, which I used to have to ignore in my non-writing jobs, but as a writer, I get to indulge them. They flavor my writing in a way readers connect with. So there are days I just don’t feel like getting out of my PJs before I start writing; and then there are others when I need to be showered, made-up, and dressed (with shoes!) before I feel like getting the story down on the screen. The weeks when a deadline is approaching and I still don’t have enough words for my manuscript, I become very anti-social and tend to lock myself away from my family and the lures of the Internet so I can put in 10k+ word days. When I don’t have a deadline looming, I can write on the living room couch with life going on all around me, attend parties, host barbecues until one in the morning.
So, for me, where’s the best place to write? Anywhere I happen to be with my computer, and anywhere I can see things from an exciting, inspiring perspective. Someplace sparkly. Not only have I worked in my bed wearing PJs, at Starbucks, and in an office, I’ve also worked in my car outside a rugby game when it was pouring rain, at the barn where I have my horses, on an airplane, in a tent while camping, sitting next to a waterfall, in a friend’s apartment in Paris, on the beach, in a hotel room during a convention, and yes, even in my bathroom while sitting on the toilet. Was that too much information? Yeah, probably. But I was never one to follow the rules too willingly.
My advice to any writers seeking guidance is this: keep your creative process sparkly in any way that works for you, because yo, the boring rules you used to live by? They don’t apply to us.
Elle Casey is a prolific, NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling American writer who lives in Southern France with her husband, three kids, and several furry friends. She writes in several genres and publishes an average of one full-length novel per month. You can find out more about her on website, Facebook and Twitter. You can read her books on Kobo.