Note From Joan


I'm at the Biz Book Writers Retreat in the wonderful 5 Seasons Resort and Spa surrounded by some of California's finest redwoods, with great vineyards and the Russian River not far away. I'm excited to help others develop a clear-cut plan of action to write, promote, and sell their books and have FUN doing it. You'd never guess that being at the retreat inspired me to this issue's article!

Joan Clout-Kruse
Your Book Coach

Writer’s Block? Could It Be Your Working Environment?

Writer’s block is here again! I thought I had the perfect setting, perfect place and lots of ideas.  Here I am at a beautiful resort, anxious to enjoy the beauty and start my writing.  It’s my third day here and I have only written a few paragraphs.  Writer’s block has certainly crept in and I’m wondering what happened to my terrific idea to get away from it all and write?

“Writer's block is a phenomenon involving temporary loss of ability to begin or continue writing, usually due to lack of inspiration or creativity,” so it states in Wikipedia that encyclopedia in Internet land.

Why am I having writer’s block? I have lots of ideas and inspiration. Is it that I am distracted by the wonderful surroundings?  By the third day I was concerned as very little was written. Here I am a book coach and couldn’t get my words down in writing. I took my daily walk to the local coffee spot in this beautiful countryside surrounded by California redwood trees. I got my coffee and sat down for a few moments to read a book on my favorite subject, writing.

During the 30 minutes it took to walk back to my cottage it hit me! It wasn’t lack of creativity or inspiration—it was the environment!  Yes, my working environment caused writer’s block.  Not the beautiful scenery or weather, but the lack of the proper writing tools and a bad ergonomic setting for me.

Here are some of the environmental problems I discovered that caused writer’s block for me:

1. No Internet Service
The Internet didn’t work in my cabin.  I realized that the Internet was an important part of my writing. Let’s face it; I was in the wrong environment for me to write. I needed the Internet for research.  In the “old days” I would need lots of research books, but now I depend upon the Internet for information.

2. No Cell Phone Service
This beautiful wooded area surrounded by tall redwood trees had limited cell phone service from my phone provider. And most cabins here do not have an inside phone.  After all most people come up here to get away from the city, enjoy the local events and are not up there to write.  I realized that the phone was an important part of my creativity.  I call fellow writers and supporters to bounce ideas off them.  Now if the Internet had worked then the phone would not have been such a problem.  But since neither was working I was completely isolated from the communication world.

3. Improper Writing Area
This is probably the key to my writer’s block. There were no desks in the cabins.  I tried putting my laptop on my lap but it would slide off and it was not the proper height to use the keyboard.  I would get a backache within 30 minutes.  I tried using a pillow under the laptop to make it higher but the laptop would move and bounce around.  I found a table outside in the cabana area and it was the right height and beautiful to work in the garden area.  However, friendly cats that stayed in the area would constantly jump on my lap and distract me.  It was cool outside or extremely hot from one hour to the next. Friendly people would want to talk distracting my train of thought.

Finally I visited the office staff and told them my tale of woe. They let me use their small conference room and that is where I am writing and I am enjoying writing for the first time in the past three days. Plus as an added bonus the Internet works!

It surprised me to discover that writer’s block is not just caused by possible lack of creativity and inspiration, but also by our chosen environment.  If you are having writer’s block challenges check to see if it isn’t caused by your working environment.  Make sure you have some of the key things you need to write your great book or article. Here are some suggestions:

a. Have a private area for your writing.  A whole private office is nice, but at least a corner somewhere designated as your space will work. 

b. Have your favorite photos on the wall and your favorite drinking cup. 

c. Have a desk that is the proper height: for your computer 26 inches high is usually the proper height for your keyboard with your monitor facing you a little higher than your keyboard/mouse area, and 30 inches is best if you are using handwriting tools like a pad and pen to write your great book. It all depends upon how tall you are.

d. Many writers want phone and Internet access. Yet, you may want to work in complete silence and not be distracted by modern day devices. Determine your preference and set up your work area accordingly.

e. When traveling determine ahead of time what the basics are you need to write away from your home office.  Do you need Internet access or cell phone service? Can you write in any environment or do you need a desk like me?

Begin checking your work area to make sure it is working for you.  As for me, the next time I travel I will call to find out if the room has a desk.  I’m also searching for a portable travel desk to bring with me.

There is one more important thing you must do that has nothing to do with your work environment: Always schedule time to write and work. Have a plan. Pick your time each day to write and write it in your appointment book. Know what topics or chapters you are going to write on each day and you will probably avoid writer’s block.

I’m looking forward to my next travel adventure. I will be more prepared to write and avoid writer’s block by knowing what type of writing environment I need. Writing is fun. Writing is a mode of communication with my readers. I love writing on the road and now I know how to make it work when traveling.

Copyright 2008, Joan Clout-Kruse. All rights reserved.

About the Author
America's Book Coach, Joan Clout-Kruse, helps entrepreneurs and business professionals write a biz book that will get them recognized as an expert, attract more clients and boost their income. She helps them overcome their roadblocks, frustrations and excuses.
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Joan's book, "Top 10 Traits of Silicon Valley Dynamos" can be ordered at:

What is your most burning question or challenge with writing your biz book? Ask Coach Joan, America's Book Coach by sending an email to

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