Thursday, March 11, 2010

Reassuring Places

This is a comment by Dancing Liza to an earlier post. I thought I'd copy it here, so we can answer the question, if we chose to:
I was reading a writing magazine the other day and they did a feature asking writers if they had any "essentials" they kept in their writing spaces and/or any pre-writing rituals that helped encourage them to get down to business. For example, one man kept a little aquarium on his desk that he said helped him feel so tranquil, he could just shut off the rest of the world for awhile in order to write. If anyone is game, and just for fun, I'd love to know if any of you have any objects or practices that help you stay focused?

I like to write in coffee shops. Most of the time, they are pretty quiet -- people reading and writing, maybe talking, but not usually loudly. I enjoy the low level activity. And coffee house customers and staff leave me alone. It's not a place where the person next to you tries to start a conversation.

A place with people who are not bothering me, where I can always get another cup of coffee or a scone, is reassuring.

Today, when I was doing the final read through of a short novel, I stayed home and stopped from time to time to make tea or check my email or count the buds on my hoya. I have found nine clusters of buds, as well as one cluster of open flowers. Flowers are reassuring. So is tea.

I think what I'm doing makes a difference. A final read through requires focus, which means I am more likely to be comfortable at home, where I can control the noise level -- music yes, music no -- and tell my partner to go out or be very quiet. (He's asleep on the couch right now.)

A coffee house is a good place for a first draft or early revisions. It's a different kind of environment, more open, less in my control, less me and my habits.


tate hallaway said...

I went downstairs to take care of the fish tanks and think about this question for a moment, and I think my honest answer is: a window.

I've found I can work anywhere any time, and have actually put a lot of effort into not "needing" talismans to write. However, I think that, for me, having something to look out on (even if it's like today and see rain on a dreary dirty snow pile) I think better.

Douglas Hulick said...

I used to have talismans -- coffee, silence, sitting at my desk, etc. -- but I've managed to lose most of them. Now, I simply listen to my gut. Some days, I can tell that the office is where I will work best; others, at the dinner table; others, at coffee shop A; or maybe coffee shop B; and so on. About the only constants are 1) using my Mac (have switched over to Scrivener, which won't work on a PC), and a reasonable amount of sleep the night before. Sometimes, I don't always get the latter.

If there is one other thing, it's that I often need a "wind up" period to get my head into doing serious writing. Some days, this can cut pretty deep into what little time I have. I'm not big on rituals, but this may be one case where I need to develop one to help center myself better, faster.

Kelly McCullough said...

I do best on my screen porch with maximum visual exposure to nature couple with minimum bug exposure. But I've written sitting cross-legged with my laptop in a corner at the Air and Space Museum in DC. All the really matters is that I have something that needs writing and a laptop to work on.