On Writing

On Writing…

By Elysabeth Williams

I’ve always found the craft of writing fascinating. Since a kid, I’ve had this fantastical vision of smoky, dark offices, dark wood desks that over take the room, light classical music playing in the background, and some author diligently tapping away sheet after sheet of his manuscript. Authors - they were tortured souls, dripped in whisky and scotch, tormented by the world at hand. Only their words would understand them. Right? Romance novelists were to sit in lush chaise lounges, dictating their tales of half-clad men to a weary typist, while they popped bonbons into their mouths and sipped on champagne. Fantasy writers were holed up in a dingy room with flickering computer monitors on their last bulb as they wove tails of dragons and knights, while pounding coffee after coffee until the wee hours of the morning.
Broody, ain't he?

Then the strangest thing happened. I realized I was a writer and began to write. Romance, fantasy, science fiction. I didn’t feel like a writer because I didn’t have all the traits. I was just a chick who digs stories. All the stereotypes and daydreams above were cast away for my simple reality. I met other writers and authors and realized we’re just people scribbling words. Some outline to the end of their lives, on post its, on Scrivener, on white boards. Then you have people like me, who just sit down and write whatever comes to your mind. (pantser?)

Yeah, I don't know either.
As for me, personally, I don’t have a desk. I have a recliner, a laptop, several hundred pens scattered about the house and a half dozen of those spiral notebooks you can get from Walmart for twenty cents. My classical music is actually my Interpol Pandora channel hooked up either to my TV or through the internet and some headphones.

I don’t find a muse, nor do people talk to me in my head. Though I think it would be lovely sometimes to hear someone tell me the story, it just doesn’t happen that way. I see bits of a movie scene and I write it down. Sometimes that’s it – and sometimes that scene turns into a great story, (or a terrible one!) The problem is, when the scene hits me, I could be anywhere. Rarely do I sit in front of the computer and just barf out a story on command. It’s like foreplay, sometimes I have to take hours to get into the mood. Other times, I’m sitting in the parking lot, the McD’s watching the kids play, or even in the drive through. My favorite place to write uninterrupted is a doctor’s waiting room, or in the car, hanging out in a parking lot.
Four year old editor says, "show, not tell."

On the other hand, music is my big inspiration. I tend to get a writing mood off whatever I’m listening to. If anyone’s followed my facebook or twitter longer than about a week, you’ll see either a youtube or a music lyric thrown out there. That’s my motivation. Interpol, Explosions in the Sky, The Shins are my favorites. Harder industrial or ebm for my steampunk books. Well, that or the Sherlock Holmes movie soundtrack – whichever is handy!

It took a while for me to find my own writing groove, but it works for me. I sometimes wish I had a big, fancy desk and a room full of books and things to inspire, but that’s just the way I work. I’m mobile, I’m very spur of the moment, and it doesn’t require any brooding, smoking, or booze! (But yes, tons of coffee.)


  1. I used to write just like that... laptop on the knee and no 'official' place for writing. But I've since found having an actual room and desk set aside for 'work' helps me get into that zone. Less distractions the better for me. Plus, it means I can listen to tunes without disturbing the family. And my new office door has a lock on it should I need it ;)

  2. i'm kinda like that too - i see movie scenes in my head - maybe it's my film/tv background - who knows - but sometimes i feel the characters are real people too - who are wanting their stories told - go figure! but everyone has a different approach. i love your recliner idea! ;) cheers! jojo


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