The New Year II

The Right Place to Write

We’re within the first two weeks of the New Year, so it’s not too late to continue fine tuning your writing practice. Finding the best time of day to write—for most of us it is first thing in the morning–is essential, but selecting the best place to do your writing is also important. While I need solitude and quiet to write, many of my students prefer leaving home and settling into a café to do their writing. Writing is a solitary activity, and being surrounded by the white noise of other people ordering and sipping coffee and tea is comforting. Complete silence makes these writers draw a blank.

I’ve also known writers who commute on BART and use that interlude as their writing time. While at first they might have found the bustle distracting, they tell me they are soon able to create a cocoon around themselves and their laptop, and are able to write each morning of the week on their ride to work.

If you prefer the quiet of home for writing, it’s important to seek the best writing spot in your apartment or house. Some of us are lucky enough to have a room of our own. Yet, even with this personal space, some writers I know prefer sitting at the kitchen table to do their writing. They find that the kitchen, with the warmth and nourishment it evokes, lowers the stakes, and makes it easier for them to put words on the page.

I know a writer who prefers writing at the dining room table. Each morning, she spreads her completed pages around her, and seeing them, thinks, Look how much I’ve gotten done, which energizes her for that day’s writing.

Even if space is short and you have to write in the bedroom you share with your partner or roommate, you can carve out personal space by situating your desk or a small table in a corner, and decorating that corner with art or objects that please you. I often suggest that writers buy themselves flowers every so often, and place these in a vase on the desk or table where they write.

No one writing place or space suits all of us. Where we write best is personal, and I suggest that if you haven’t thought about this yet, you explore writing in various places and spaces, to see which feels most comfortable for you. You might be surprised at the result.

I learned about the importance of place when my husband built me an office in our backyard. Before that, I wrote in an office in our house—and considered myself lucky to have that. But the minute I moved into my new space, I felt liberated. It turned out that for me, being out of the house in a quiet space was the optimal situation for my writing.

Where do you now write? Are you certain it works for you? Why not try one or two other places or spaces to see just what happens to your writing when you shift environments?

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