Screenwriting : Where do you write? by Sarah Campos

Sarah Campos

Where do you write?

I need inspiration for where to write. I always find myself writing at my desk in my apartment. It's getting old so I want to know where you guys sit down and write. I'd like to be inspired to write elsewhere than my boring desk with a bad view. The park? On a rooftop at sunset? In the car? On a mountain? Where??

Shawn Speake

I prefer my lab with calendars, bulletin boards, and index cards all in my face. Check out my profile cover pic for a hard-core writer's room.

Kerry Douglas Dye

On pretty days (like this time of year) I sometimes write in my head strolling in the park (Central, or Riverside). If I come up with anything detailed, I'll yabber it into my phone and transcribe it when I'm back at my cramped little writing desk in my overpopulated living room. I'd kill for a spare room.

CJ Walley

Kerry makes a really good point here, the act of typing isn't the writing. Getting out into the world, letting your imagination run, and trying to record it all down is where a lot of good writing is done.

Shawn Speake

Writing is thinking….

Kerry Douglas Dye

I do my best writing when strolling or in the shower. I used to have a gym membership and was an explosive fireball of creativity while walking fast on the treadmill. Then the damn gym started piping in disco music, which knocks the thoughts right out of my head. I'd love to have a treadmill at home, but I live in Manhattan and don't have the floor space! (Yep, there's the reason I'm not an Oscar-winning screenwritier yet: not enough floor space for a treadmill.) :)

Virginia Brucker

I don't think it's the physical space that matters as much as the mental space you are in. Having a regular routine helps--even if you are working at another job still. Slot in a regular writing time each day, even if it's just 45 minutes. When I sit down at my desk at a regular time with surroundings that aren't a distraction, it's a signal to my brain that it's time to work. I reread the previous day's work and take up where I left off. Getting out in the world between writing sessions is a much-needed break for all of us.

Liz Warner

Some people like coffee shops. Not my thing, but whatever works is good!

Cherie Grant

I used to do cafes, but now I find them too distracting. I'm quite happy at home at my desk in peace and quiet. And I can spend all day here and not have to buy a coffee. I have my own stash. BUT I do write notes and think about my stories when i'm out. I found the Melbourne Botanic gardens a real inspiration on a cold autumn's day with no one around.

Eric Pagan

I sometimes write in coffee shops, library, and even at the food court in the mall. I use ear plugs when I write even if I am at home. The hard part about writing at home is that I will find a reason to stop, but if I'm not home 5 hours can blow by in a blink of an eye.

William Martell

Coffee shops and public parks. I get out of the house and go somewhere that is my office, and while I am in my office (or out my office if it's a park) I am on the clock and write. The thinking about it process can happen anywhere., but the butt to the seat process is what results in pages (and it is all about results, I know people who think about writing all the time but have zero pages).

Gordon Milburn

Show, don't tell. lol. well it was just easier. https://www.stage32.com/media/1128979259495295363

Cherie Grant

See I dont see distractions at home as a bad thing. It's not healthy to sit for hours on end. You HAVE to get up. So I write X amounts of pages or words and then go do the laundry. Then back to writing. I have breaks here and there to exercise my back. The only bad distraction i suffer is the internet. like right now. doh!

F Wheeler

The library. Surrounded by all those books... how can you not be inspired.

Richard Narvaez

I agree with Virginia and would also stress the importance of breaks because they can usually help objectify your work (once you sit back down and re-read what you have).

Elisabeth Meier

You have wonderful ideas and I indeed tried a few of them. In a café was difficult because too many people stopped by and asked me something as writing nonstop is unusual for most people. Library with all the books was a wonderful place, but in mine were no tables. The car is indeed an interesting place. I liked sitting on the backseat and writing while it was raining. Then I tried sitting on a bank in the churchyard close to my family's grave. Hence, Park can be a nice experience as well. The top of the roof must be great and of course a place on the beach or in a lakehouse like in the film 'The Lakehouse' should be mentioned.

CJ Walley

Virginia's point is the one that resounds with me. Trying to find inspiration in the external environment may be putting the cart before the horse.

Elisabeth Meier

CJ, what do you mean? I understood her question like already being in the process of writing, but getting bored of the every day routine in your home office.

CJ Walley

I mean that there is a process. Too many of us want to create this external environment which inspires us to sit down in front of a blank sheet and write, it's a very romantic ideal. However, as I'm sure we've all experienced, what's really needed is our minds to be bursting with enthusiasm to write, hopefully to the point that we simply don't care where we have to do it.

Elisabeth Meier

CJ, agree, but on some days sunshine and fresh wind around your nose don't hurt as well as playing with crazy, creative ideas and trying the rooftop she mentioned.

Rosalind Winton

In my head is where I write - it doesn't matter where I am, I am constantly in writing mode and I keep a pad and pen with me wherever I go. I think it's a little bit different for me because I write lyrics and songs for artists and when I'm on a specific project, I like to sit in my sun room or outside weather permitting (I'm in the UK too) or on the floor in my lounge with my book and pen (yes, I hand write all my lyrics, songs and poems) because it's the process of actually physically writing them that's the heart of it for me as well as everything else. I've written commissioned poems in the park on a hot summer's day sitting under a tree. I've written parts of lyrics in the supermarket when an idea has struck, absolutely anywhere, but as I said, when I need to really get a project together and work on it properly, then I work at home. I think no matter what you're writing, or where you're writing... as long as you write and remember that inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere, I like to people watch, listen out for things people say and do, be aware of your own thoughts, look out for great tag lines on shop names, advertising marquees, anything and everything, the other thing is, ideas come from ideas so just let your imagination run wild, it's great fun :)

CJ Walley

Elisabeth, indeed there's certainly nothing wrong with enjoying one's environment. My own fantasy is to move to California, buy a pickup truck and spend my writing days finding somewhere inspiring to sit in the bed and write. However I know that the reality of professional writing is a case of writing where you have to, be it at home, in an office, in a hotel room, or on a train. I'm also pretty sure that, regardless of how perfect the setting could be, I'd still fall foul of dwelling on every minor distraction I could find from time to time. Let's face it, we acclimatize easily. The good thing is, I generally find I can put on my headphones and give myself plenty to be getting on with. I've always struggled with relating to the blank sheet of paper paralysis. I also respect that we have writers on here who come home from a tough job exhausted, sit down within a hectic home life, pick up an ancient laptop computer, and write. To be honest, I find there is a side to writing I find very pretentious and focused way too much on the superficialities. I was speaking to a producer a few weeks back who described living with a writer in NYC. He did it all, dressed like writer, talked like a writer, hung out in the writer's circles, bored his friends with his views on writing, and even bought an old typewriter to make things authentic. What he never actually did was sit down and write anything.

Elisabeth Meier

CJ - okay, I wasn't aware that this last type of writer really exists. Thought this was a legend. Well, then ideas of where else you can write actually can raise your self-concsious when you find out you really are able to write everywhere. I never feared the white paper, but can imagine this happens when you're under time pressure caused by deadlines because I don't like this pressure and remember having this in university. Then, we share the same dream of California but I dream of a nice veranda or simply a room with a beautiful view over the ocean and open windows...

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I think it patly depends on what you're writing. I carry my iPhone everywhere so that provides a place to stash ideas. The problem with any computer is the effect of sunlight on visibility of the screen to do any serious writing. Parks are nice and, if you look around, they're there. Concrete steps, if you're a city person, provide an opportunity to commune with pigeons playing target practice but also force you to get up and walk around every now and then. Retreats are great for quiet places to create but are time limited. Beaches, boardwalks (if you got 'em), or, if you're like me, crowded places where the people provide white noise to go within yourself as well as an opportunity to eavesdrop on people for dialogue. Some places like Starbucks (gag), any fast food place, any coffee & munchy shop with tables and chairs...there are lots of places to go outside your apartment. I suspect small shops tolerate you more if/when they discover you're a creative. They never know if you're the next Hemingway, but sober, or not. I recommend a large can of Deep Woods Off, if you're doing the park thing. Sometimes a little trappings, like a special hat or a briar pipe that you never smoke, put you in the mood. There's this thing called "state dependent learning and performance" where you get into a groove if you've got props. One never knows, do one?

Alexington Westmont

I have the same problem sometimes. When I get to that point, I usually got to Starbucks and write while I people watch or I go to a restaurant and work while doing the same thing.

CJ Walley

You're an inspiration, Steven!

Bruce Lawley

Much of my writing has been done in coffee shops and on the train commuting to and from work

Samantha Anne

Usually I write at my desk - but I totally get restless when I'm at the desk too long. I've started carrying a paper notebook again, and a kajillion pens. I'll write anywhere, really: parks, beaches, city benches. As long as I don't feel like I've got someone looking over my shoulder (eg. on a subway car)... I don't know why I get so paranoid about that, I hate feeling like someone's watching.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Samantha, you might be just anxiously paranoid, but as likely they're playing "getting to know you." It could happen

David Levy

I have to write at my desk. I am visually impaired and need to sit 3 inches from any device. So having a laptop and sitting anywhere will not work for me. Try sitting in Starbuucks trying to write with a laptop on your face! IF I need to take notes or write down ideas I use my iPad and e mail my notes to myself. ONce on my computer, everything goes into Word files. I have Final Draft on my iMac and iPad so any script I am working on is always with me. I wish I could write anywhere. I envy those who can write on their laptop anywhere. Hard to carry around a 27" iMac. Sometimes I feel like a prisoner because I am limited. But, I digress.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

David, I can relate to that with a few years of retinopathy playing havoc with my putter time. I do play with the screen preferences to help out. I'm not quite up to having the outer read it aloud to me. But, getting there.

David Levy

I have central vision loss in both eyes. Form of wet macular degeneration. I get blood leaks from the blood vessils behind my eyes. Imagine having permenant scars in the middle of your eyes, distorting and blocking your central vision. That is what I deal with. No surgery available. Only a shot in my eye can stop any new attack that was designed and meant for cancer patients. But each new leak I see means a new shot every time. My vision can not be repaired at this time. Sitting 3 inches from my screen is better than any device I have come across.

Elisabeth Meier

@David If you should ever need someone to type something for you fast because you have an urgent deadline or what ever - you can always contact me. I'm typing really fast. My Mac can tell, because the keys in my 4 year old MacBookPro partly haven't any letters anymore and show little holes already :)) So, I'd really like to help and would't charge - just in case.

David Levy

Thank you. That is a very kind offer. I do not get many of those. Thank you.

Elisabeth Meier

I'm glad if I can help.

Doug Nelson

I have my own private little world out here in my little studio overlooking the McKenzie River here in the woods of western Oregon. I have three computers going (a couple of printers) and it’s so full of lighting equipment, tripods, cameras and audio equipment that there’s only a narrow little path to my desk (I need a bigger studio.) I can crank the music up loud/or not and not disturb anybody – except the wild turkeys, the deer, foxes, the occasional bear or wandering cougar. I reject the realities of life and substitute my own out here.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

wow... that was some pretty poor typing and having the computer adjust what I was typing. Note to self: read before hitting "post."

Sherry Landrum

I have my favorite chair in my office. Lucky for me my office is a converted porch and has windows all around so I can see the beauty of nature right outside my window. I also find it very inspiring to write in restaurants or coffee shops, especially when creating dialogue.

Elisabeth Meier

@Sherry ... the chair of writers is also interesting. I haven't found my perfect chair yet. Am dreaming of this Jasper Chair, but it cost almost € 2000 or so and I don't know yet if it is that comfortable. The chair is very important.

Charles G. Masi

SC --- I write on my laptop, so it goes wherever I want to go. Sometimes in the living room with my feet on the coffee table. Sometimes on the lanai, if it's not too hot or cold. Sometimes in an easy chair in the bedroom when my wife wants to watch something icky on the TV, and I don't want to be in seeing or hearing range. Sometimes on the couch or at the worktable in my artist's studio (I'm a multimedia artist). And so forth. It's not where you write; it's what you write that gives satisfaction. --- CGM

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Elizabeth, for that kind of money, it should write scripts for you and then pitch them.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I have an office chair that once held my office manager from my practice. How she spent so many hours in it, I have no clue. Maybe I don't have enough padding. The last retreat I attended, I got nothing written. I really tried, but being one with nature? The only things I merged with near drained me of blood and filled me with allergy producing pollen.

Patrick Cavanagh

I usually write on my train in and out of NYC. On a good day, an hour and 10 each way. On a bad day, an hour and 30. Some days I stare out the window and picture scenes in my head. That's writing, right?

Robert Graphik

Well when I enjoyed writing I made it a ritual, brought a new pen a new pad and went anywhere that held large amounts of energy. Off beat coffee shops, rooftops are great underground clubs anything that sets your mojo moving:-)

Rafael Pinero

I think that if you're writing notes for your project you can do it anywhere, but when it comes to writing your outline or your actual screenplay, then you can't do it anywhere because you need to be focused, not watching the nature, or the river, etc...

Donnetta Williams

I definitely write the best when I'm supposed to be doing something else. I love to write outside whether it's in my backyard or the park. If I'm not outside I'm in my bedroom.

Jeff Scott

At home with headphones on and some metal blaring in my ears. Really helps me concentrate for some reason. Also the best time for me to write is from 1am to 4 am.

Nnabike Okaro

I can write anywhere there is no T.V to distract me. :D

Elisabeth Meier

Yes, Jeff, the best time to write for me as well. Before the rest of the world awakes again. :)

Leontien Parlevliet

Like you Sarah, I always work at my desk in my apartment. My father made it and I don´t wat to get rid of it for he died last year.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

When the rest of the world fades near the witching hour, peace opens to places no one I know lives. I get to explore and simply write about my tour. Eavesdropping during other hours gives me hints about who, what, where, why, and when to include in that tour. As to where? A small office/nee bedroom, in my home once occupied by my office managing person. As I clear dying files, it looks more and more like a comfy place to hang out. I actually have afternoon sun to blind my computer screen.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

A silly point might be that as my memory gets moldy, I love my iPad more and more. Talking to it keeps people at a distance so I can write anywhere. Malls are great places to do both, by the way. You remember malls? From when you had money to spend there?

Elisabeth Meier

@Steven LOL... You mean you will send me your 647 little notepads that you wrote while learning Spanish in an Italian Pizzeria in NYC? Would really love to read these :)) But serious: of course I would. Sent you a request, just email me.

Elisabeth Meier

Oh, I just read it were incredible 847 note pads, sorry, my mistake.

Elisabeth Meier

@Steven I'll think we should keep this private and discuss in emails from now on. :) Billy Wilder - Wow! I'm in. This is so much what I love.

Elisabeth Meier

Steven, I eMailed you here... :) but will email you now to your direct mail address. Thanks!

Dr. Becky Sue Conright Usry

Writing for me starts in thought, when I'm driving, when I'm drifting off to sleep, when I have to wait in line...

David Levy

I've always found in the arms of a kidnapper with a gun to my head I come out with my best stuff! (just my humor people...just my humor)

Elisabeth Meier

David & Steven, you mean like: I write best when I rent a room in a cheap hotel to fulfill my plan of committing suicide by jumping out of the window and then the window jams? (Thanks to Billy Wilder & Jack Lemmon) :))

Elisabeth Meier

I mean that is really the best moment for great ideas.

Lisa Beuk

When I'm physically writing, I prefer to do it in a place with nice scenery. I find it soothing and relaxing. I find it easier to unwind and dive in. It's not about how much space you have or how beautiful your view is though. If you can be surrounded by things that make you feel at peace, I think it helps. You have lots of great ideas on here! Good luck finding that special place!

Rick Reynolds

Sitting in company of music playing softly with a bottomless glass of scotch, a hookah burning beside as a fire churns in the fireplace. Time of day is irrelevant.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Dr. Becky Sue.... all at the same time? I'm trying to picture how that works in a script.

Jo Weber

Wow! so many awesome ideas and thoughts. I liked CJ's comment about us trying to create the ideal surrounding, but it's obvious that there is no "ideal" and that any "ideal" spot will be different for everyone. For me the distraction of having my husband around all the time is a hurdle to overcome and then there are writers or industry website threads that sometimes eat up my time. Balancing all that and accomplishing something each day is a real challenge for me.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I noticed a repeating theme in this "successful habits" deal. Just about all of the people noted a most productive time being early morning. I know that doesn't work for everyone and all people have varying circadian rhythms, but it is something to think about.

Cherie Grant

Honestly I don't know how any can write at night time. My brain is frazzled by then.

Robert Graphik

Why should it matter where the mood hits you?:-)

Elisabeth Meier

@Robert This post actually is more about what crazy ideas or experiences do you have where else to write than only in your home office. I think that was the question.

Robert Graphik

@em;-) i got that:-) one should always write in the nude in popular skyscraper windows at 10 am on Sundays. I am told this is the only way to accomplish an elevated writing technique, all other ideas are just silly.

Elisabeth Meier

Yes Robert, exactly like that. Don't forget to write your script down all over your body so that the doctor's who will carry you away after you jumped have something to read or can make some money with it. ;))

Elisabeth Meier

Don't forget little arrows that they know how to turn you the right way round to read the story.

Jhonny Gleez

I use to write always in the same place (mi desk). But i really enjoy taking notes when i´m on a train

Robert Graphik

Em??

Elisabeth Meier

rg - just got inspired by your idea of standing nude etc and how to write then... :))

Stephen Seitz

I tend to develop plots and scenes at the swimming pool, and the actual typing in my disaster-zone office.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Now I'm stuck. I wanted to write on my patio but this iMac is hard to get on my lap. I really don't want to blow money on a Mac Air or whatever it's called. Is it worth it?

Sarah Campos

Lawrence, I honestly think it is worth it cuz you can take it anywhere. A laptop is so portable as opposed to an iMac. You can take it anywhere and everywhere, including your patio. I think it'd be a great investment. YOLO, right? ha

Lawrence R. Kotkin

But wouldn't an iMac be more impressive on a subway or while I'm driving? People would say, "He must be a screenwriter...look at that equipment!"

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I'm stuck...looks like I'll be plugging away on my PC laptop. I feel so deprived. Now all I need is some writing skills and I'm set.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I wanted to ask a related question. We all talk about the location we write and as a novelist, I write with a pad, pen and/or my computer. Do any of us write alongside another person or three? I thought we collaborate on scripts. Or do I owe my computer an apology?

Sarah Campos

Haha Lawrence, you should try out an iMac and all the equipment on a subway and let me know how that turns out for you!...I've never tried collaborating with others but I'd love to...not sure how successful it would be but it's always an experience. Anyone wanna collaborate?

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Steven, I suspect that first you have to become friends.. Hang out a little then put together a project. A group requires three people, but that's another issue. One other person might be easier if you have a good relationship and are both experienced pros. With novels, two person collaborations seem to dichotomize into superb teams or fall apart where a threesome would be more stable.

Shawn Speake

Thinkin' out loud: start a thread on COLLABORATION for more attention on the issue. You'll get all the feedback you can handle!

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Great idea, Shawn. I wonder if a GOTOMEETING app could work for that.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Steven, I've met with one other person in Astoria..we're trying to drum up a group for collaboration there. I'm out east on the Island but what the hell. it's only petrol.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Working on the COLLABORATION thing. I stared a new thread in the Screenwriting category. We'll see what happens.

Shawn Speake

Skype works well for writing groups.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Sarah, let me get back to you on that. Steven, I'm good for it also. Need to connect with Jordan Yanco who is in Astoria. I think we got ourselves a CON voy.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

I don't want to hear that no one knows that song.

Rosalind Winton

Lawrence, I can't find your thread on collaboration, I've looked in the screenplay section, but can't see it, unless I'm missing something lol..

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Two friends (collaborators) meet at a coffeehouse to write. Their show is now in rehearsal at the Paper Mill Playhouse (a Broadway-level theatre). They also wrote a bestselling song about a local barista. As for me, I love to write in waiting rooms.

Stephen Seitz

Agatha Christie said that the problem with collaboration is that each feels he did twice the work ond only got half the money.

Shawn Speake

Hey, Steven! You can download Skype for free.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Steven, I agree... many famous duos. Rogers/Hart and Simon and Gar the Farkel twins...but sometimes the threesome is a good thing, too. It's the smallest number you can have for a true group and when a member is inexperienced, the lowered stress (the family effect) , can bring up a lagging learner to speed much quicker. Okay, so I'm being selfish. I'm told my writing has that delayed-laugh built-in, and only a chance holiday present got me into attempting screenplays, but here I am and you'll all have to live with this monster. Maybe someday I'll contribute or write something scripty that kills the audience, but I gotta crawl first. That means a small group that won't consider me a creative drag. Working on it.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Rosalind, soon as we're connected, I'll link you also to Jordan, my current opposite number in Astoria ...I have to find the thread for you.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

First, Stephen, I'm not aware Agatha Christie ever did a screenplay. Second, this is a gestalt biz... the whole is greater than the sum of its parts AND a sold work pays a lot better than a singleton in your stash of stuff to shop around. I guess this is from the perspective of a newbie. I just want to join the club, THEN I'll get pissed about smaller paychecks.

Jo Weber

I like the idea of collaboration. Not on all projects of course but sometimes a project needs another interjection. A shot in the arm so to speak. Having someone to set the pace with and bouncing ideas off would be encouraging as well. I use my sister who is an artist and likes to write children's stories, but she's not for the action drama, instead of knives and guns she's more likely to want me to use marshmallows or some unlikely object of destruction. So, I use her more for story concept than details. And yes, I can see how one party would be more than likely to feel they've done more work than the other but if that's what you're looking at then best not to go into it.

Shawn Speake

For partnerships, try exchanging scripts first. The partnership should come from the writing, first. Personality, second. By exchanging scripts for coverage we learn who we work with best before committing to a project and investing a lot of time that we can't get back.

Lawrence R. Kotkin

Great idea, Shawn. I'd go for that...as soon as I have a completed script.

Shawn Speake

Hey Steven! I started exchanging scripts with Shane Wheeler about a year ago, and his story memos were so good, I kept going back. He's in Detroit, I'm in Va. and Colorado. And we've only met face to face on Skype! After using most of Shane's notes time and time again, and developing a heck of a friendship, we've decided to co-write the next script together. It all started with exchanging scripts!

Sherry Landrum

We should note that the conversation switched to another subject under "good places to write" to "collaboration." It's a very good subject. I'm engaged in a collaboration right now on a Musical. I've had to learn some new modes of creating lyrics. So far, so good.

Shawn Speake

That's great to hear, Sherry! I started to write a comment about that when I re-read the thread and noticed Sarah asked to collaborate. It's her post. No worries here!

Sherry Landrum

@Shawn Thanks.

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