Today’s post is an excerpt from 10 Core Practices for Better Writing. This comes from “Chapter Eight: Tools and Resources,” and it examines a writer’s need for a place to write.
A Place to Write
“You want to be a writer, don’t know how or when? Find a quiet place, use a humble pen.” — Paul Simon
Many books I’ve read on the craft of writing say that you should start by creating a special place where you can write. It can be an entire room or just a desk in a corner. Maybe you like to write at a local café or park.
It’s not a bad idea. A dedicated writing space can be free of distractions. If you can manage an entire room (some writers set up in a closet), you can keep others out when you’re doing your work (just put a sign on the door: “writer at work, do not disturb”). You can fill your space with the tools and resources you need (pens, notebooks, laptop, reference materials, etc.) and it can be decorated with whatever inspires you.
But that’s not realistic for everyone. Personally, I’ve never been able to set up a place just for my creative writing. When I write in a notebook, I usually curl up on the couch or sprawl out on my bed. When I work on the computer, I sit at my work desk, which is where I perform my day job and do lots of other things, from paying the bills to watching my favorite TV shows.
A dedicated writing space is nice but limiting. You’ll end up writing in a single location to the exclusion of all other places you could write. You might even become dependent on your own special writing space. If you’re ever away from it or if you have to give it up, it could negatively affect your productivity. You’ll be far more creative and productive if you train yourself to do the exact opposite: write anywhere and everywhere—on the bus or train, at your desk, or in a bustling café.
You can set up a special space too, but try to avoid relying on it for all your writing sessions.
- A busy, crowded café might seem distracting, but maybe you’ll be inspired by the people you see there.
- A quiet room may sound ideal, but is it too isolated? Some writers work better with some background noise.
- Think about your writing environment. Are there things to look at when you’re thinking through a problem? Do these things distract you, inspire you, or help you focus?
As you experiment with writing in different locations, pay attention to how each location affects your work. You might do your best work when you’re riding the bus or relaxing on the front porch.