Hey, where do you write?
Your house? The kitchen? A friend’s living room? It’s not so much about having a room of one’s own, it’s more about knowing how to carve out a mental space within a physical one.
Me? I have to get out of the house to create brand-new words. I can revise just about anywhere–the plane, my home office, the front seat of my car. But to capture new ideas, I have to be out of the house.
It’s a little frustrating, actually. I have an amazing office. I’ve spent a lot of time setting it up, just so. I have a beautiful roll top desk, and the drawers hold everything from writing gum to hair elastics. My setup is ergonomic, and my chair is comfortable.
But brand-new words don’t come when I’m inside the house. Instead, the dogs distract me. The cats whine for food (silly cats, always needing “nutrition”). The dishes should probably be done, and is the washing machine really leaking? (It is.) That stack of unread writer magazines should probably be recycled or read, so I might as well read a couple of ’em quickly.
So in order to get a first draft, I leave.
For a long time, I went to a local café. But honestly, I grew resentful about spending five dollars on a simple Americano. I’m cheap that way, and I like the coffee we drink at home. So I started pouring my coffee into my travel mug and writing at my old college, Mills, which is around the corner from where we live.
Home-brewed coffee. Big tables. And best of all, I no longer have a working Wi-Fi password for the campus.
So I go. I sit. I stare at the screen. And eventually, I get bored enough to write. There’s absolutely nothing else to do. It’s a trick, I know. But my brain is kind of dumb when it comes to tricks. The same trick, ten years down the road, still works.
What about you?
Is there a local library near you where you can go to work? Can you try a new café and not ask for the Wi-Fi password? Or set up a program like Freedom which removes you from the internet for whatever amount of time you set?(I love Freedom so much I’ve dedicated a couple of books to it, no lie.)
(No, you don’t need the internet to write. Need to do research? Guess at it. Put in an asterisk, and fill in the research later.)
It always, always helps to have a plan.
Do you have one for this coming week? Yep, Christmas is almost here. The relatives are descending, and you’re stressed out about the shopping you still need to do, not to mention the wrapping (my family says it looks like I wrap presents with my feet, but I swear to god I’m trying as hard as I can. Me and Scotch tape just don’t work well together).
But do you have an extra day off work this week? Can you write on your calendar a block of time that you’ll use to write, to get some words done? Even one hour is wonderful. Two stolen hours feel even better. But if you can’t get that, aim for grabbing even 15 minutes. I’ve written whole books in 15-minute increments. Sometimes that’s just how we have to do it to get ‘er done.
So block off some time. Figure out where you’ll write.
(And then tell me how it went. I’d love to hear.)
I’m on vacation next week (huzzah!) so the next time we chat it’ll be the turn of the new year. Start thinking now about the collection of words you’ll create next year (exciting!). And if you haven’t written enough this year, get just a few more words in before the calendar turns.
I know you can do it.
- I just finished revising an essay about the Cult of Creativity, based on an amazingly and hilariously bad “creativity” conference I attended earlier this year. (Oh, the scent of glue and desperation.) You can get it (and the others) for as little as a buck an essay, right HERE.
- I’m enjoying the new book, Story Genius, by Lisa Cron. I disagree with a few things, but I love her idea of the third rail of writing. If you’re having trouble plotting, you might like it, too.
- Related to nothing except my general excitement, we scored tickets to the San Francisco production of Hamilton, next June. I can’t stand it! WHY ISN’T IT JUNE?
Encouragement, once a week. Free.
Do this for yourself, for the writer you want to be.