Where do you look when you write?

Once, when I was having trouble writing and spending a lot of time staring at the last line of text on the computer screen, a man asked me where I looked when I wrote. And then, before I could answer, he asked, “Is it like watching a movie unroll in your mind?”
I had one of those marvelous flashes of “insight” and realized that when I was writing well, I never looked at the computer screen or anywhere else. I usually had my eyes closed or so unfocused, I didn’t see anything at all. I wasn’t watching events on an internal movie screen – I was literally there in the midst of them. I also realized the key to getting unstuck was closing my eyes and imagining myself back inside the story again.
I do something similar when I’m trying to solve a difficult problem at work. I either walk down the hall, staring at the floor, or sit at my desk with my eyes closed. I suspect that shutting down visual stimulation and processing frees up mental resources, but that’s only a theory.
How about you? Unless you’re compelled to look at the computer screen to view research, where do you look when you write?


I look at my screen. My lovely Scrivener green-on-black full screen, which doesn’t make my eyes tired, and which makes me feel all cosy and happy with what I am writing, even when it’s abject rubbish.

If I closed my eyes, I might go to sleep. I never look at the keys when I type, but I have some sort of inbuilt reflex which means that when I close my eyes my typing goes wonky and I start to tuped sjf ihf edi e a eit his freuhwaith .!

my typings like that even, when Im looking at the keyboard :frowning:


I do the “look at my screen but not really focussed” thing, too. Like Siren, I touchtype but if I can’t see the actual words appear on the screen, I start making silly errors. Which means I only look out my window (at a lovely English rural view) when I have to stop to think about something… or type smilies :wink:

I like to look out the window, when it is not too bright out. Closing my eyes is too non-verbal for me. In that space, I am all abstract vision and sound.

I look at the scene I’m writing, which might be in a car, or an office, or a university lab, or a museum. It’s all playing out in my head, so I watch it as I write it. :slight_smile:

I mean, who needs drugs or alcohol when one can just write??

I look at a little yellow puck, trying its best to avoid some hungry ghosts. That, or any other collection of retro games. Why? Because I find looking at that last line of text, waiting for a flash of inspiration, about as useful as a chocolate teapot. I find myself getting frustrated if nothing comes to mind. I don’t work well frustrated, so take myself elsewhere for a while. It usually helps me.

One other way, probably slightly more productive, I get inspiration is within the Inspector. In full screen, with darkened screen, I place relevant photos within the inspector. Always helpful but without the lure of a highscore.

When I’m editing/revising/correcting, I have to look at the screen, I mean really focus on it. Otherwise, I start evading and avoiding the problems. If I’m trying to get started, I usually leave the keyboard altogether, and often as not leave the house. Exercise and fresh air do wonders for the mind (so I’m told). But if I’m in that sweet spot in the brain, some part of me is in the scene I’m writing. I have no idea what I’m looking at. It’s like acting. If the scene is dragging or someone drops a line or the audience is restive, I’m aware of all those things – other actors as actors, the script, the people out front. But when it’s flying, I don’t think about any of them. Stay in the moment and let it carry me.


It will seems very foolish but when I am not looking at the screen, I often look at a picture of the person I love. It is for her that I write… even if she doesn’t know that.

Well, I was right: it is foolish :blush:

When I’m typing words, I’m usually staring at the screen, though my internal focus is on the scene in my head. When I’m thinking about what comes next or how a character would react to what just happened, etc., I often stare out my window/sliding glass doors.

My balcony has a little fountain, flowers in pots, some greenery and oak trees beyond. It helps to have a lovely place to rest my eyes, even when I’m not seeing what is there.