a peek inside the fishbowl

16 Sep, 2014

My writerly needs

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Publishing/writing/career stuff

It is Deadline City around here this past week and I’ve had my head down, writing. And when I haven’t been writing I am thinking about writing, and reading other people’s writing, and dreaming about writing. Since I’ve been doing that for awhile now, I’m happy to say that I’ve finally figured out what works for me.

  • My best time for writing is in the morning.
  • I must be sufficiently caffeinated.
  • I usually sit at my desk, on my desktop computer, although I have been known to use my Chromebook in the family room.
  • I use MS-Word. The font of choice is always Cambria 16.

I also don’t like to be disturbed while I’m writing, so when the family is home I shut the office door to keep the hubbub out. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work. There’s always someone who wants to come in, interrupt, and hang out. Like this dood:

Let me in


What are your writerly needs? I’d love to hear what you need to do in order to get some writing done!

9 Responses to "My writerly needs"

1 | Lynn

September 16th, 2014 at 1:55 pm


About the same for me. I write best in the morning but there’s no point in starting until everyone is off to school/work – lucky for me we have an 8am school start time so everyone is gone by 7:45. Then it’s write, write, write for about two hours before my brain is mush and I need a break. I write newsy type articles at my computer but essays and fiction are written longhand, in a notebook, away from the internet.

I have my daughter home sick today, and she was here yesterday too, and it amazes me how I am completely unable to concentrate with anyone else in the house. Even if she’s just watching TV in the next room, it’s so disruptive. For the same reason, I rarely work on the weekends, just because I’m too spoiled with my days of complete silence to write in any other circumstances. I am amazed at people who write in coffee shops – how do they do it?

2 | andrea tomkins

September 16th, 2014 at 2:05 pm


I can write in coffee shops, but only sometimes. I can tap out a blog post, but if there’s big thinking that needs to be done, it needs to be quiet!

3 | andrea tomkins

September 16th, 2014 at 2:43 pm


I should also point out that I am almost always wearing a hoodie, and my hair is pulled back.

4 | andrea tomkins

September 16th, 2014 at 2:53 pm


This is posted on behalf of Ann Douglas (http://www.having-a-baby.com), who tried to comment but had technical issues:

“I have learned that I need to tame my anxiety so that I can greet each day with excitement and anticipation as opposed to anxiety and dread. Over the past few years, I’ve started walking — a lot. The payoffs have included better focus, improved concentration, greater creativity, and becoming a much happier, healthier me. (See this piece for the extended play version of the changes I have been making.)

Having a network of writer-buddies is also key. Who better to understand the roller-coaster ride that is the writing life than someone else who is living it, too. :-)

5 | Misty Pratt

September 17th, 2014 at 8:41 am


I seem to do my best writing while I’m out walking, cycling or running. I’ve considered buying a little voice recorder so that I can dictate some stuff if I suddenly feel creative while out and about. I’ll only look a little bit weird ;)

6 | Javamom

September 17th, 2014 at 10:12 am


Mornings. Coffee. At home on laptop. If the words don’t come I can read, and/or make notes elsewhere (like a coffee shop).

An empty house is a must. When someone works at or is home, it’s tougher bec there is no office, just various places around the house. This semester he teaches three days a week so those three days are my most productive. The others…hit and miss. So I do laundry or groceries then. :)

7 | andrea tomkins

September 17th, 2014 at 10:20 am


But here’s the thing that freaks me out. I think all of these needs are in my head. I’ve basically told myself that I must have all of these things in order to succeed at writing… but it may not be true AND I may be setting myself up for failure if/when I need to work at night.

8 | A helpful tool for writers >> a peek inside the fishbowl

September 17th, 2014 at 10:57 am


[…] Further to yesterday’s post about writing… […]

9 | Rebecca

September 17th, 2014 at 3:11 pm


Morning for me is best, absolutely. And I need silence. SILENCE. When the kids are gone to school I don’t turn on anything, there’s only the sound of my keyboard.

I’m currently using Calibri font at 11. 11! I didn’t even realize it ;)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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