While most writers seem to be content to work while sitting at a desk before a typewriter or a computer, a lot of them used and still use other kinds of accommodations, be it out of necessity or extravagance. And it seems that unusual workplaces don’t hinder them in the slightest.
Different people have different ideas of comfort, and it is probably no news that writers, being an eccentric lot, often have particularly unusual views on it.
For example, Dame Edith Sitwell found inspiration only after having a nap in an open coffin – she has developed a ritual of lying down in it before she was going to set about writing.
Walter Scott is known for having composed his epic poem “Marmion” while riding on horseback in the vicinity of Edinghburgh, Scotland. And not simply trotting about at a leisurely pace, at least according to Walter Scott himself, who used to say that the best lines came to him when he was galloping.
Maya Angelou likes to isolate herself, but not in her own house – she hires a room at a hotel, asks that everything is removed from the walls so that she is not distracted by anything, and brings her own effects: a Bible, yellow pads, a dictionary and a thesaurus. In the past she was said to bring an ashtray and a bottle of sherry as well.
Gertrude Stein found inspiration while driving in her Model T Ford, so she wrote during stops on her way to Paris for shopping.
James Joyce was known for writing at night, in bed, and wearing a white coat so that the light reflected by it would provide additional illumination.
D.H. Lawrence considered trees to be the best company for a writer – while remaining living beings, they have an advantage of always keeping silent. He preferred to write outdoors, reclining on a tree.
But not all writers chose their unusual workplaces. Many showed excellent examples of using what they had in the best possible way. Wallace Stevens, for example, composed poetry while walking to and from his office. John le Carre used 3 hours he daily spent on a train getting to and from his workplace to write his debut novel, Call for the Dead.
All in all, it seems that it doesn’t matter much where an author writes: if you want to write, you will find an opportunity to do it, whatever your circumstances are.