Saturday, January 07, 2012

Writer's Workplace: Jeannie Watt + Giveaway

Writer's Workplace is a sneak peak into where series romance authors create their books. First up Superromance (and new PHS editor!) Jeannie Watt shares where she works!

For many years I dreamed of having a dedicated place to write—a place where I could have references at my fingertips, files in a file cabinet, stacks of fresh legal pads and new typewriter ribbons…did I mention that I started writing a long time ago?

It took a while to achieve my dream. Every place I lived was too small, too crowded, too cramped. When my husband and I finally bought a larger house (or perhaps I should say a slightly larger house) we instantly had kids and all available space was given over to Lego’s and other kid paraphernalia.

At that point in time, I had a typewriter, and a pretty good one at that—a correcting Selectric. I would set the monster up on the kitchen table and during naps and the occasional Disney video, I’d work on my stories. When I needed the table for other things, such as eating, the Selectric and my legal pads would go onto the floor until it was time to write again.

Eventually, after the Selectric gave up the ghost (or maybe the ribbons became impossible to find) I progressed to a small word processor, which I set up in another high traffic area of the house—my bedroom. It wasn’t until the kids graduated high school that I finally achieved my dream of having a dedicated Lego-free writing area. I bought a computer and a desk, which I set up in an office-like room that had once been my daughter’s bedroom. That wonderful place was where I wrote my first Superromance, which didn’t sell, and my second Superromance, which did.  It was too good to last.

Shortly after I sold that first book, we decided that we had to get the TV out of our small living room. The solution was to make the office into a TV room and move the computer downstairs into the basement bedroom. It sounded wonderful in theory. The basement has windows and sunlight and was quiet. I splurged on a better computer desk and an actual file cabinet, but in spite of that, when I sat down at the keyboard, it just didn’t feel right.  Too quiet. After a few weeks of trying to write in my new office, I gave up and moved back upstairs to the kitchen table and started to write. The words began to flow. I decided to stay.

My writing laptop, which I recently replaced with a tiny netbook, needed a bit of a home, so I bought a small computer stand which I wedged between the wood cook stove and the buffet. My husband swore the stand wouldn’t fit in that space, which was really code for “it’ll look bad,” but I didn’t care. I shoved the desklet against the wall and started writing books.

The kitchen is now my dedicated writing area. When I get stuck, which is often, I sometimes turn my chair around and move the netbook from the computer stand to the kitchen table. For some reason facing the opposite direction helps me when I hit a creative wall.

Every morning before I go to my day job, I unplug my netbook and pop it, along with the legal pads on which I keep notes as I write, into a tote bag for the 45 minute drive to work. If I’m on deadline, I’ll often write on my way to work while my husband drives. When I get home in the evening, the netbook goes back onto either the kitchen table or the computer stand and I’m ready to write.

After several productive years spent at the kitchen table, I’ve decided that dedicated writing spaces are great—and perhaps I’ll have one again— but right now I’m more than happy to move my netbook when it’s time to put dinner on the table. It just feels right being where I am.

My question to you is where do you feel comfortable working? Do you have a dedicated area? Or do you shift things around like I do? I’m giving away a complete set of my Superromance trilogy Too Many Cooks? to a randomly chosen commenter. I hope to hear from you.

To learn more about Jeannie Watt and her books please visit her website


  1. Hi Jeannie
    I love the pictures of your writing space, thank you for sharing with us.

    I do have the luxury of a dedicated writing space, but I tend to either sit with my laptop on my knee in bed and write, or sit in the middle of the lounge and write. Somehow, the household going about its business around me helps with the creative flow.

  2. After years of writing on the bed, I managed to get an office when we moved. I find I tend to do the business stuff at my desk, and still wind up my bedroom. It's quieter up here!

  3. My laptop is rather old and is now plugged in permanently to the internet connection and I don't dare move it around because the plug socket has become a bit loose. So I know have a corner in the house which has become my dedicated area for writing. But I have a slightly busy, crazy life with four schoolgoing kids although I'm a SAHM(Stay At Home Mother). I can write in longhand in my bed if need be. Wherever and whenever inspirations strikes and time is available. I get there in the end, basically.

  4. Jeannie! I have my computer set up in my second bedroom which I call my library/office. I do write in there but if I'm writing longhand (which I've been doing a lot lately) I write either in the chair in the living room or my bedroom with the TV on low.

    Love the color of your kitchen wall!

  5. Hi Toni--The beauty of having your own dedicated place is that you can retreat to it when things get serious, like say when characters stop cooperating. I'm like you--being close to the action helps the creative juices flow. And when the kids were little, I was able to key into those moments when it got a little too quiet on the kid front...

    Hi Jenna--Business at the desk, writing in bed. I like that!

    Hi Maria--I smiled at your loose plug. What a great way to claim a corner as your own, lol. I outline my books longhand, jotting down quick bits of dialogue, scene starters, etc. But if I do it in bed, I seem to fall asleep. Congrats on writing in the midst of your slightly crazy life. Four kids can keep a person busy.

  6. Hi Marcie--Another curl up and get comfy writer! I had the hardest time finding the exact shade of red I wanted for my kitchen wall. Some were too orange, some too purple. They never look the same in the store on the swatch as they do on a wall. Apparently, according to a color study I found, if a writer faces a blue wall, they are more creative and if they face a red wall, they are more detail oriented--which is good for proofreading. Perhaps that's why I have to turn around, away from the red wall, when I get stuck.

  7. I don't write books (unless you ask my friends, and they'll say every note I write is a novel, LOL)!
    I write poetry for special events. I find my best place for inspiration is in the car while my husband is driving. No idea why. Usually I first try sitting in a comfy living room chair with a clipboard in front of me, but sometimes the rhymes just don't happen. Sometimes I must go to my computer to "" for my inspirational words. This is a great web site for unjumbling words, finding missing crossword letters, synonyms, and rhymes....

  8. I keep thinking t would be perfect to have a peaceful place just for me to work but I suspect I've spent too long getting used to carrying work around to settle in one space!

  9. Thanks for sharing your office space(s) with us. Typewriters! - yup, I remember them. I never learned to type properly though so I find computer keyboards much lighter for my own particular brand of typing. I just need to find a netbook I can understand and I'll be peripatetic too!

  10. Maria - I've had that laptop :) Wrote my first book on one...well, wrote it long hand in a spiral notebook during kiddo play time and typed/edited it at night. It worked :D

  11. Hi Jeannie - thanks for your nice, encouraging comment. I'd sort of put my writing and life on hold for the first ten years after the kids started arriving, but I started to realize if I waited around, life might pass me by. My work might get written slowly, but I'm not in a hurry. I've had a few short stories published, so hopefully, the longer work might start doing well for me:)

    Hi Jenna,

    That's very encouraging, thanks for sharing. It gives me hope!


  12. Usually, I'm stuck inside, shivering at the computer, longing for the months when I can go outside and write longhand in the sunshine.

  13. Hi Jennie, I enjoyed your post, I always love to see where others create their stories. I got a study when we moved into a house 12 years ago after spending years working in a corner of the our bedroom (I wrote film reviews then not romance novels!), and I have to admit I love It, not least the poster of Marlon Brando with his bongos (and that isn't a euphemism folks!!) that looks down on me while I write. No wonder I seem to be in love with bad boys!

  14. Hi Jeannie from Charlene Sands - I work in an office now. For years, my computer was in the family room. I used a word processor too, back in the day and that was on the kitchen table.
    But now, I've got a dedicated office space. As soon as my son moved out after college, I grabbed his room. I'm surrounded by artwork, my covers and lots of western stuff for inspiration. I love being in here, but whe enough is enough, I leave the room and read my emails and do research on my new Christmas gift, an IPad. I like it especially when the day is glorious and I want to sit outside. Thanks for sharing your workspace today.
    Charlene Sands

  15. Laney--Lol at writing a book whenever you write a note. Interesting about being inspired while in the car. I wonder if its because your mind has time to wander since there's no way you can jump up and go do something around the house.

    Hi Pageturner--I believe that's exactly what happened to me!

    Alison--I love my Samsung NC10. For quite a while I wrote on the "big" laptop (all 15 inches of it) and used the netbook only for travel. Then after a trip where I wrote most of a book on the netbook, I decided to make it my dedicated writing computer. I don't have to shift files back and forth, etc. I love it.

    Summer--Writing longhand in the sun sounds so, well, romantic. :-)

    Heidi--How nice that you finally got that dedicated space and you love it. Especially with your bad boy watching over you. I have a poster of Captain Jack that I think I should put up, but my husband doesn't want it in the dining room. Some guys...

    Hi Charlene--Your office sounds lovely--especially the part about being surrounded by things you love that give you inspiration. I covet you iPad, by the way. I'm saving up now for one.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by.

  16. Hey Jeannie,

    I love your workspace pictures. The red is perfect :)

    Although I wrote on the kitchen computer during my first manuscript, I now have a dedicated office (and computer)...with a door that locks. I can't trust my three boys to not 'mess' with my stuff or crash a computer, so locked up office it is. It's my cave, and it's full of novels that I've had since highschool, some college textbooks, and some things I've collected over the years. Being surrounded by things that have helped shape 'me', keeps me focused on my writing goals. However, when I'm stumped, I like to write (or edit) longhand while curled on the sofa in our sunlit atrium.

    What you said about colors is interesting because my office has deep red/warm accent colors, while the atrium is in soothing, muted greens (close enough to the blue end of the spectrum ;). It works for me!

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  18. I meant to add that I either have your books or they're already on order :)

  19. I meant to add that I either have your books or they're already on order :)

  20. Rula--I do love warm colors in the rooms where I create. Too funny about having to lock the computer away from your boys. But...boys will be boys--as I'm sure you know, lol. Thanks for stopping by.

  21. Hi Jeannie ~ I too love your work space. I love the stove. I had to laugh when you said your basement space was too quiet. I love having background noise when I'm doing stuff as it's seems to make me concentrate better.

  22. Jeannie, I love that you gave us a peek into your writing environment! How vibrant, your spaces. I laughed out loud at the word "desklet." And thanks for the hint about the differences between red and blue--I'll keep that in mind! I do have a dedicated space in the corner of the bedroom, but like others whether or not I actually use it depends on my mood. I've always thought it would be so romantic to work outside but something always chases me back in--mosquitoes or a too-cool breeze or too much sun. Please ignore me for the drawing--I'm about to dive into "Undercover Cook." :-) Oh, and congratulations on your new editor status!

  23. I love that color on your wall! I don't like choosing paint colors as they never seem to be the same when you see them on the small swatches once you have them on your large wall.

    I don't write fiction, but when I work at home, i use my laptop on my bed or the kitchen table. Have a desktop on a desk in our guest room, but never use it :)

  24. It's Saturday 10:37 p.m. where is this blog posting from? It's 10 hrs ahead of me! :)

  25. Thanks Jeannie for sharing your writing space with us. I'm with you on the quiet study. I've got a lovely one all kitted out with desk, laptop etc. But I go in there and....nothing. Don't know why, but I'm more productive sitting in the living room, laptop on my knees, typing away with the DH siting next to me watching whatever he likes on the TV. I can tune out anything it seems cos' when I'm in the "zone" I'm immune to the noise. Caroline x

  26. love the fact that the books you're giving away are called "too many cooks" given that you wrote them in the kitchen!

  27. Checking in very late and very embarrassed--I didn't realize that I picked the winner of the give away contest until a very kind reader contacted me. Trust me--this will not happen again!

    Anyway, according to the randomizer, the winner Too Many Cooks? is Kaelee!

    Best regards to all!