Most author advice will tell you that you have to be able to write in any place at any time. It’s true – you won’t get very much done if you refuse to write anywhere other than your favorite spot under ideal conditions. Learning to write in random locations and tune out distractions is a big part of being able to produce good work day after day. TV in the background? No problem. People walking in and out of the room? No problem. Interrupted every few minutes by random questions? Annoying, but no problem. Your baby crying? No problem. Actually, maybe problem. Okay fine, definitely problem. But everything else is something you can learn (read: struggle and probably fail) to tune out.
That being said not all places were created equal. We all have an ideal writing spot, a spot where we just seem to have more energy and focus, where we can write 2,000 words in two hours that are better than the 400 we would have ended up writing anywhere else.
I have two favorite spots.
1. A Coffee Shop. This is the place where I get the most work done. Cafes, Starbucks, whatever, coffee shops just have a different feel than anywhere else – like if I’m goofing off instead of working the barista is going to come over and dump coffee on my head. Places like these have that steady hum of work being done which is nice when you aren’t wearing headphones. They have things going on that can visually distract you, but for some reason they just don’t, or you don’t notice, or you just don’t care. And it smells great, like coffee, which always reminds me of the library. Lastly, and this might be my favorite part, there are always half a dozen people studying for the lsat, mcat, gre, law or medical school exams, anything that requires a ten inch thick textbook really, and they make you feel like your life is the easiest and happiest thing in the world by comparison.
2. A Flagstone Patio. I’ll take a wood deck, too, but it’ll be grudgingly. Sitting on one of these at either a round glass table or in a lawn chair is great. Get some good sun when it’s nice out. You can play music on speakers or from your computer instead of wearing headphones. It’s great for relaxing and doing some work at the same time.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that I end up doing most of my writing on a particularly comfortable couch at home. If I’m feeling ambitious I might even sit up on it. And if I want to be a real maniac I’ll sometimes sit at the table in the other room. It’s one of our versions of the great debate – write sitting up at a table to be more productive or write lying on the couch because we’re lazy. It’s amazing how much more work gets done at a table or desk.
What about you? What’s your ideal writing spot? Where do you actually end up doing most of your work? How do you deal with distractions?