Monday, March 15, 2010

Reassuring Places

This is a cross-post from the Wyrdsmiths blog. One of the commenters there asked:

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?

My answer was:

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.


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