Issues in Philosophy Discussion: Finding the time and space to write

Discussion: Finding the time and space to write

The summer break is drawing to an end, summer writing deadlines are looming, and we’re looking for tips on what time and space helps you to write best.

Recently, I came across the term “Bliss Station,” which is a sacred time or space – free from social media, news, and other distractions – in which one can be free to let their creativity incubate. E.B. White once said that, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”  He couldn’t focus on his writing with music playing, but wrote in a bright and busy room full of other distractions. Finding the right time to write is more important for Francis Ford Coppola than the right space. He likes to work early in the morning because, “I wake up, and I’m fresh, and I sit in my place. I look out the window, and I have coffee, and no one’s gotten up yet or called me or hurt my feelings… you don’t want to have a heartache when you’re trying to go fly on some adventure of writing.”

Schedules were important for Simone de Beauvoir and Immanuel Kant, too. Upon waking up, Beauvoir would have tea, work from 10am until 1pm, see friends until 5pm, and then work again at Jean-Paul Sartre’s place until 9pm. Kant would get out of bed at 5am, drink two cups of tea and smoke a pipe, work until 7am, lecture until 11am, work again until lunchtime, walk and sometimes see friends, go home, and then do a little more work until 10pm.

What schedule works best for your writing? How do you focus? What sort of music do you listen to? Does Spotify’s “Deep Focus” channel deepen your concentration, or does it deepen your desire to take a nap? Where or when is your “bliss station”? Let us know in the comments section below!

More about the daily habits of highly productive philosophers can be found on Open Culture or in the book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey.


Skye Cleary PhD MBA is a philosopher and author of 'Existentialism and Romantic Love' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). She lectures at Columbia University, Barnard College, and City College of New York, and tweets at @skye_cleary.

Skye Cleary
Skye Cleary PhD MBA is a philosopher and author of 'Existentialism and Romantic Love' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). She lectures at Columbia University, Barnard College, and City College of New York, and tweets at @skye_cleary.


  1. I have yet to find a place or time that is optimal for writing (much less a full-blown schedule or routine). Every time I seem to hit on something that works, it either stops being feasible or stops working altogether. So I’ve had to follow the wisdom of Uncle E.B. and just work wherever and whenever.

    I do try to stay offline when I write, but only when I’m working on something I really don’t want to do and distraction becomes all the more tempting. When working on something I want to do, however, I find it easy to balance it with some online dalliance.

    And I can say that, for me, music is essential. A nice long jam band show ( works especially well, but any type of music will do.

  2. Every interview with a writer (mostly novelists) that I’ve heard or read gets to the question of routine. Over and over again I’ve heard: write everyday for about three hours, and suffer through the initial phase of feeling that what you are writing is awful. For me daily routine is key, and I write in the morning after coffee and exercise. I also make time, especially during the summer, to recharge by spending lots of time out of doors and away from the hustle and bustle. The endorphins I experience from hiking, kayaking, etc., takes me to that place where thinking happens. In sum, for me daily writing is only as good as my daily rush of endorphins.

  3. Sometimes something wants very much to be written and in that situation it is not important factor of place and time, we just write and enjoy.


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