Why is it that some of us find it easier to write away from home? I know I do. I’ve got a whole office set up with everything I need and nobody to distract me, but I still find that the words flow more easily when I go somewhere else, whether it’s a tiny table in a crowded Starbuck’s or a rock beside a river.
Home just has too many distractions, chores that need doing, family members calling for attention, or today in my case, the unidentified critter that seems to be living under my kitchen floor. It’s hard to concentrate when you hear claws scratching at something, possibly something important like the wiring. It’s also hard to concentrate when the dog is running around whining with her nose to the linoleum. Sooner or later, I’m going to have to do something about this situation, along with several other house problems that are screaming for my attention. But right now it’s time to write.
For me, once I get going, I can write pretty much anywhere. I spent years writing in busy newspaper offices with phones ringing, people talking, and folks coming in and out. It can be done, especially with deadlines pushing you to get the work done, but is it ideal? Not for me. I like it quiet.
Different writers have different needs for their writing space. Some keep music playing all the time; some need silence. Some are comfortable surrounded by stacks of books and papers; others need clean surfaces. Some need a windowless room with no distractions; others find inspiration looking out the window.
Whatever feels right to you is what you should have. If you can write on your laptop wherever you happen to be, or if a dedicated space makes you feel claustrophobic, make your backpack your traveling office. But most of us benefit from a dedicated space where we keep our computers, books and papers, and where we can surround ourselves with whatever we need to feel comfortable, whether it’s inspirational pictures and knickknacks, a cat to keep us company, or a cooler full of beer. Well, maybe not the beer. Write first, drink later.
I recently saw a picture online of a vintage travel trailer one writer turned into her office. It’s cozy and cute and best of all, it’s not in her house. My parents used to have a similar trailer, and I wrote in it for a while. It felt great.
In some cities, writers have joined forces to share rented office space to write. They share amenities like photocopiers, Wi-Fi access, and conference rooms. Read here about a few in New York or click here to read about The Writers’ Barn in Vermont. Here in Oregon, Willamette Writers has set up a writing house, where for $10 a day, writers can come write in comfortably furnished rooms decorated in famous-writer themes. Yes, it’s a house, but it’s not their own house. During NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), members get together for write-ins, where they work on their novels together. That shared energy can really work.
We can all think of a hundred reasons why we can’t write, but lack of a comfortable writing space should not be one of them. Even if all you have is a corner of a room, claim it, put a screen around it if you have to, and get to work.
Where do you write? I would love to hear about your writing spaces and suggestions in the comments.
Now go write.