Every writer is different. Each one has different methodologies. Each one is more comfortable with different writing implements. Some can listen to music. Some need silence. Every writer needs some place where they feel comfortable listening to their muse. Every writer needs a space where they can do their craft.
When I first started writing, it was wherever my Apple computer was. This was the family room for a while, but it wasn’t long before it was simply in my bedroom.
If you’ve read my post on the tools I use, then you might guess that my writing place is wherever I can sit comfortably with my Surface. Sometimes this is my garage, but often it is a Starbuck’s not too far from my house. I go there every Wednesday evening. Sometimes, I’ll go and spend an entire Sunday there, and knock out an entire first draft of a short story.
For a place to be a good writing spot for me, it must have some key qualities.
It must be a place with minimal interruptions.
The Starbucks is surprisingly good for this. When a person sits down with their laptop in a public place, there’s a social force field that seems envelope them. Sometimes it’s more like an invisibility cloak. Every once in a while, someone might ask me a question, but it’s pretty rare.
Most of the time, my computer out in the garage is a good place to get away, but it depends entirely on what the rest of my family is doing. I’m more likely to get asked to do some chores at home than I am if I’m out in public.
My work place is an example of a place that is not a good writing space. I’ve tried to spend my lunch hour or breaks working on fiction, but it just doesn’t work. There is always something that demands my attention at work.
It must be a place with limited audio distractions.
I cannot write fiction while listening to music. I know that some people find inspiration in music when they write, but those people are not me.
I’ve tried going to different Starbucks locations, and some work better than others because of the music that they play. There are a few I’ve been to where the music seemed intentionally loud, in order to drive out people like me.
Etiquette note: I don’t drink coffee anymore, or buy any of the drinks at Starbucks. However, I always buy something. On Wednesday evenings, I always get a panini sandwich for dinner, and sometimes I get a brownie or something for desert. I think it’s important to be a courteous patron, and not a cheap loiterer.
I like the background noise in public places, because it becomes white noise. In my garage at home, the washing machine and dryer can also be non-distracting background noises.
I need at least an hour in order to get anything substantial done.
I talked to Glen Cook once about how he writes, and he talked about how he used to work an industrial job, and would jot down bits of his stories in the 90 second windows between duties. I am not Glen Cook. It usually takes me a little while to get going.
If I go to a public place to write, it must be somewhere that I can sit in the same place for at least an hour. If I have to change tables much or move around, it’s not a good spot. I might get some work done, but I probably won’t be happy with it.
Here are some places I’ve tried to write, but failed.
The problem with writing in bed is that it just isn’t very comfortable. If I somehow manage to get the keyboard into a place that I can type comfortably, I wind up with a stiff neck or sore back. If Melissa is in bed with me, it really doesn’t work. No matter how she tries to accommodate me, I invariably get bumped or moved around. On top of that, I feel guilty for trying to do a singular activity next to her. Writing in bed does not work for me.
In a car, with someone else driving
I can be on a laptop in a car, but I can’t write. There are too many distractions. Also, I hate to block out the people I’m traveling with in order to focus on my story.
I can program while being driven around, because I can take frequent breaks while I’m programming. I can also converse to a limited degree, even when I’m neck deep in code. But I cannot write fiction in a car.
On a plane
I’ve tried a few times, but it just doesn’t work out. For one thing, I’m a nervous flier. I can (usually) read a book during a flight, but I can’t get into my own story while up in the air.
A few times, I’ve taken notes and done some plotting while flying. That’s useful. But I cannot write while flying.
I could probably write on a train.