The view from my office. Which I religiously do not face when writing!

A fairly long time ago I remember someone telling me that the way to start writing each day—which every writer knows to be the hardest part of the job—is to, “apply backside to chair.”

All these years and books later I think there's more to it. Yes, essentially you have to commit to it and do it, but there definitely are ways and means that can serve as effective jumpstarts. Aids to getting you into the zone, if you will.

One that underpins pretty much everything else, is where will you write. For me, Virginia Woolf's famous advice is unbeatable. A writer requires “a room of one's own.”

Woolf was speaking of women at a time when they were unlikely to have a study, much less a home office – such were the domains of men – but the issue remains one to be addressed.

I have written in a number of different settings because I've had to, but even when I couldn't claim an entire room (living in an inevitably cramped Manhattan apartment for example), I've carved my working space out of my home.

I know writers who rent office space, or go to a café, or arrange for a writing desk at a library or some other public venue. But it strikes me they're mostly men. Getting away from the kids and the cooking and the cleaning.

Women, not so much.

Daisy, in my office, doing her share of the work.

I wrote my first novels on an old LC Smith manual typewriter and thought bliss was an electric IBM. These days I dock a (heavy) laptop and have a full size keyboard and monitor on the old pine door with legs that serves as my desk. So I can free up the laptop and take it with me if I must, but I'm not tortured by the screen size or keyboard limits. (And if you're younger than I you may not have issues with what I see as limitations. Different strokes for different folks…)

Another critical component is a good chair. I bought an Aeron years back with an unexpectedly excellent royalty check from Norway. (On City of Dreams, a story set entirely in pre-Revolutionary New York City. Go figure.) As for the chair, best investment ever. They're cheaper now I believe, but the Aeron is worth whatever you have to spend for it.

Also, I must face a blank wall. Which I admit is quirky and maybe crazy, but there it is.

I have one other pre-writing ritual that works for me though I don't know that it would for anyone else. I play a couple of hands of solitaire (sometimes more!) before I get going.

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