I've explored this subject before, last year when I was living in Hawaii and experienced a series of regular power outages in my neighborhood. I have a laptop, so it wasn't the electricity by itself that sent me to Starbucks. It was coffee (can't brew without electricity) and the laptop battery (uh, don't mention the Alphasmart — I know, I know). I'd always thought writing in Starbucks would be difficult. The music, the customers, the movement all around me.
It wasn't difficult at all. Pop the headphones in to listen to my own choice of music, sip the macchiato, fire up the laptop, and type. Worked just fine, especially when I couldn't check my email or blog.
So fast forward a year. I'm living in Alabama and I have a gigantic room all to myself. Bookshelves, internet, desk, daybed. A view. Lots of peace and quiet. And I'm seriously considering packing up and heading to a coffee shop.
My hubby looked at me like I was a nut when I mentioned this the other day. I'm no longer sitting on the couch with laptop and writing, like in Hawaii. I have an office to myself. (I had an office in Hawaii, but it had frosted jalousie windows and I hated that I couldn't see. Felt like I was in a shower all day, so I moved to the LR.)
And I DO feel nuts for considering it. This room is what I wanted! It's all mine, ready to go, perfect for long sessions at the computer. But, you see, there's laundry downstairs. And there's a junk room where everything we unpacked but didn't know where to put just yet is still waiting for me to sort through. And there are two needy cats who regularly interrupt me with meowing, loud and frightening noises (did they break the lamp? Oh heck, must go see!), and begging.
So, I end up thinking it would just be easier to remove those distractions. Best way to do that is to not be in the house. There was a discussion on one of my loops the other day about this issue. Some folks write in their jammies all day long. Others have day jobs and write when they can — before or after work, while on the subway, etc. And some get dressed and go to a cafe.
Hemingway wrote in cafes, but not just there. He actually rented an apartment (when he could afford it) to use strictly as an office, getting up, getting dressed, leaving his wife and child in their shared apartment in Paris and going to his office apt.
(Okay, just NOW, there was a loud noise from downstairs. Cat knocked over a picture that hasn't been hung yet, but didn't break the glass — he has broken the glass on another picture before this one. So, have to run downstairs, determine noise, pick things up, lock cat up. Meanwhile other cat shows up and tries to get into my coffee which is sitting on the desk. This is why Hemingway rented a separate apartment.)
While I consider packing up and heading out, I feel guilty about it. But I also think it may be necessary, at least from time to time, in order to clear out the cobwebs and get something moving. And now I'm asking you, where do you write? Do you find a quiet corner of the house, have a great big office, hunch in a closet, write on a train, or head for the nearest cafe?
Let me know, because I'm very interested in how this works for you and if you'd do something differently if you could.
I’m one of those who can’t write in public. Heck, I can’t write when anyone else is in the house. Too many years of the kids sneaking up and reading aloud over my shoulder and giggling, I think.
I can, however, do web work great in coffee shops, and do that fairly often when I’m on deadline. I guess there’s no trust issue involved in that for me.
I have an office at home with a big window overlooking the back yard and the bird bath (big distraction) and two computers, both hooked to the internet (bigger distraction). I tend to write better in longhand so I’ve tried turning off the monitors and sitting on the futon with a legal pad. Works sometimes. I’ve gone to Books-a-Million and order a chai and found a comfy chair. Works ehh… the music is a distraction. I stopped by the new Madison Starbucks last week while I waited for some prescriptions to get filled and just wanted to read while I waited. The music was SO loud I could hardly hear myself think much less concentrate to read. Note to self: email Starbucks about this.
I’m still searching for the perfect environment — inspiring but not distracting, comfy but not sleep-inducing. I’ll let ya know if/when I find it.
Hey Lynn! I love to write in our study at the main computer but I often get bumped out by the kids. While they’re in school, I usually sit in the study and write on my laptop. I prefer writing while listening to music, usually sound tracks from movies that inspire me. I get a lot more done this way. I also recently thought about using my IPOD Shuffle for times when I’m waiting to pick up someone from practice and am writing on my laptop in the car. 🙂
Hey, Terry! I remember when you used to write your westerns with Bon Jovi blasting, and I used to wonder how you could write with music that had words. 🙂 I can do it now, provided I have headphones (isn’t that weird?). Well, not to want your family gone or anything, but I hope you get plenty of alone-in-the-house time to write!! I’m pleased to hear you are working on RS, but I’d still love to read Hawk’s story someday. 🙂
Hey, Marilyn! I agree with you about the Madison Starbucks! What the heck is up with that? I went there the other day, took my Alphie and some notes and thought I’d get something done. Nope, too darned noisy. I didn’t have my iPod, but I’m afraid that even if I did their music would have drowned out mine.
I can see where a nice picture window and a birdbath would be a huge distraction for me too. I keep my blinds semi-closed, but I do have lots of traffic coming and going that I sometimes watch. They are finishing up the houses in the cul de sac, so things are busy around here.
Yesterday, though, I was successful in writing just by closing my Internet connection and forcing myself to look at the WIP. I wanted to go out somewhere, but the only thing stopping me was knowing I’d have to get dressed. LOL! Guess showing up at a coffee shop in my jammies probably wouldn’t do.
Thanks for chiming in! If you find the perfect environment, I’d be happy to know about it.
Hi, Kathy! I love to work on my laptop, though I sometimes get a lot done just by using my Alphasmart. I took the Alphie to National, and I actually wrote 3 pages one night. Think it was Friday, once I finished dinner with friends and the roomies were still out.
I love writing to soundtracks too. When I was writing historicals, my all-time favorite soundtrack to write to was Braveheart. It’s still one of my favs to listen to, though with the contemps I tend to listen to particular bands for particular books. I have a Bon Jovi book and a Journey book, and I think I’m about to get a Chris Daughtry book. It’s crazy the way my head works sometimes. 🙂
Thanks for chiming in! I appreciate it.
I do my best writing in bed, propped up with all the pillows and wireless internet thingy hidden in another room.
I may be in bed, but I can’t do the PJs thing. I have to be dressed. If not, it’s waay to easy to roll over and take a nap 🙂
Dressed and in bed? LOL, PC! That’s a new one on me. Yeah, I can see where napping would be too easy if one weren’t dressed. And I did write those 3 pages on my Alphie while sitting in bed at National!
I wrote on the bed a couple of times in Hawaii, but I had those frosted jalousie windows in there too, so it was pretty much the living room for me. In fact, come to think of it, I had frosted jalousies everywhere except the living and breakfast rooms! No wonder I wrote where I did. I love standing under the shower when I’m stuck for ideas, but the feeling of living inside a shower 24/7 just ain’t gonna cut it. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by. 🙂
I mostly write in my office. But I have a laptop and haul it all over the house with me, so sometimes I write in the kitchen or dining room or wherever. I really like to write out back on the patio too, but it’s way too hot right now. In a couple of months I might start that again. And I have to have music. At first that was just to drown out the kids lol, but now I’m so used to it that I can’t write without music.
umm. I write in a living room facing a wall. When I have to write the technical plan, I go to otto’s work (put the IPOD on) and type away… in front of a wall.
Do you get the picture?
Hey, Loribelle. I like the portability of the laptop, no doubt about it! I’ve definitely worked in my office more since moving here than I ever did before. I always took the laptop to the living room.
Cyn! Facing the wall doesn’t bother you? I have my desk beside a window, but facing from one side of the room to the other. There are bookshelves and a daybed. I used to write facing a wall, and it didn’t bother me at all, but I think the key in looking back is that I was beside a window. I like to be able to look outside. 🙂
Lynn.. I don’t mind but every once in awhile the finches start cheaping behind me. Usually it is time for me to take a break.
But when I am in the ZONE I am not looking outside anyway… and it only distracts me. Cyn