IS IT JUST ME? OR DOES WHERE WE WRITE AFFECT WHAT WE WRITE?
For instance, my novelist pal Margaret writes at home. Each morning at five she rises, lets the dogs out, puts on the kettle, boots up her laptop and settles onto her quiet porch, where she taps out lovely, quiet stories of single women, their dogs, and the porches where they sip tea.
Margaret’s kid, Sam, writes in night cafes. Scrawling long-hand, he records the frantic rattle of the twenty-something life that throngs around him. Sam’s work has sirens in it—flirtation, drugs, disaster—but no quiet stories. No dogs.
Certainly, writing doesn’t always reflect the spot where it’s produced. Just as certainly, writers—creatures of great habit—often have, in addition to a favorite pen or writing program, a favorite place to write. Like Baby Bear’s chair, the spot we’ve carved from a world of chaos can feel just right.
But once habit takes the short leap to superstition (I can only write … in the bathtub? at my table at Starbucks? in the library? at the zoo?), we’ve given our creative power away.
If you’re a writer who needs absolute ear-plugged silence to get a word on the page (Hello, me!), take a trip to a local music hot-spot and write while guitars and synthesizers fuss and wail.
If you keep yourself “far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,” take yourself to a local mall one Saturday afternoon. Then, pen in hand, capture what most of America’s really like!
It’s a big ol’ world out there. Take your laptop on a field trip. Grab some of that big ol’ energy for your writing. Who knows? Like Milo, you might find a new, just-right spot—and maybe even a new, just-right voice to go with it.
This post is a revision of a piece I wrote in 2008 for my then-blog, Workshop Porkchop. I was an adventuring writer at the time. Now, more of a stay-at-home writer, this is a good reminder for me. I hope it inspires your writing and my own!