The Writer’s Home
by MW Cook
When thinking about the best place to write or do whatever our creative spirit moves us to do, there are phases.
First, we picture the perfect environment as a place of seclusion with ample lighting, classical music in the background and an expensive mahogany desk. Or something like that. Probably something with a bunch of quotes on the wall. And maybe a poster. And an espresso machine.
If we’re unlucky enough, we might even be able to manufacture such an environment. And we sit there, in our expensive chair made from baby cows, and frown.
Because it didn’t help. Writing is still hard work.
Then we figure that the environment counts for nothing. We force ourselves to adapt to every and any situation. We try to work at home, despite the screaming kids. We try to work at coffee shops, despite the noise. We try to steal a few hours at work on the night shift, despite the eerie silence and darkness. And things get better.
But it’s still hard work.
Since we’re versatile at this point, we end up doing our work in a variety of different places. And, if we’re mindful, we start to notice that our productivity levels are higher at certain places / times / settings. I, for example, discovered I work best in a public place, surrounded by people who don’t know me.
And then a temptation arises.
Because we suddenly realize that there is an ideal writing environment. It’s just a little counter-intuitive.
This is a dangerous realization to touch, because it tempts us into thinking that all our bad days are due to the place we sit.
My life does not allow me to sit at the coffee shop every day. If I’m lucky, I get there a couple times a week. And my work is certainly best there. One day at the coffee shop is worth four normal days. That stat makes me look at my normal days and question why I bother with them at all.
But that thought fails to take stock of the inter-connectivity of … well, everything.
What I do during the week touches my coffee shop weekends. If I spend the week in discouragement and idleness over my inability to transport my coffee shop environment to my night shifts, what sort of energy will I be passing on to the weekend? I’m pretty sure that the moment I neglect the hard, inefficient grind of the weekdays, I’ll start to fail even at the coffee shops.
Because the writer’s home is not a room or a desk or a shop. It’s where the story is.
My problem is, I tend to be more productive during my day job. I’m sure that wouldn’t thrill my boss. However, I do try to confine my writing spurts to my breaks. Some days that’s harder than others. I get a good start on my daily word goal, then finish it up at home. Basically, I can write anywhere, so long as no one is looking over my shoulder asking me what I’m doing.
I love that last line!
I used to think that I needed complete solitude in order to write. I tried to confine myself to just me, my ideas, and a pen and paper. However, I too, slowly came out of that writer’s shell since it wasn’t really working out for me. I feel much more productive at a coffee shop or in a park on a sunny day. Although now that I think about it, maybe that’s because I feel more pressured to at least LOOK like I’m doing something productive. Which makes me actually be productive. It’s a bit more awkward staring into space for an hour when you’re in public than it is when you’re in your own house!
There’s a great TED talk about inspiration being a sort of giant ball of energy that comes ploughing in to you, no matter where you are. I definitely work like that and am still at the stage of trying to harness it instead of letting it harness me when it so desires! To that end, I find walking is my best idea time. I will usually walk and tell myself a story or envision myself on stage telling one and suddenly by the end of the walk I have an entire monologue….
all our bad days aren’t always about the place we sit. There in us aren’t they. Thank you for that reminder.