Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do you find there are better and worse places for writing?

Yes. I think choosing the right place to write is a huge deal.

The environment in which we find ourselves affects the way we think. Just imagine how you feel and where your thoughts take you if you’re on a remote mountaintop or at a lonely seashore or in a creepy house or stuck in a traffic jam. You might feel awe-inspired or at peace or yearning for companionship or uneasy or angry, or any number of other feelings.

We acknowledge this even if we’re not consciously aware of it. We might refer to a restaurant as having a good atmosphere. It might be one that allows us to relax, or enjoy the company of friends, or provide an intimate and romantic setting, and so on.

Even colors affect our moods. Being in a room that’s painted with bright reds and yellows affects us in a different way than being a room painted aquamarine or dark blue.

In addition to our surroundings and the states-of-mind that they induce, keep in mind that dealing with distractions can be one of the most lethal blows to concentration and focused creative effort.

So, when you’re writing, you’ll want to find a place without distraction, one that provides a mood and environment that allows you to focus on your work. Depending on what you’re doing—brainstorming ideas, shaping the story, free writing, editing, proofreading—you might want to work in complete silence or with music in the background.

Besides finding a place where I can work uninterrupted (my basement, an obscure coffee house, the library), I edit in silence (usually wearing noise-canceling headphones), but then type in my changes on my computer while listening to music—usually either electronica or trance music (since words distract me) or songs I’ve listened to so many times that I’m not tempted to focus on the words.

One more thing. Usually, when I’m trying to see my work in a new light, I will go to a totally different location, sometimes in another town, and reread what I’ve written. The unique setting helps me to be more objective when I read over my work. Try it. You might be surprised by how it really does give you fresh eyes to edit or proofread what you’re working on.

3 comments:

  1. My favorite place to write is a small pizzeria owned by a family originally from Naples, Italy. It's not necessarily quiet, but with the men yelling in Italian at the football match on television and the grandbabies running around, there's so much energy in the place, words leap from my keyboard. Plus, they have the best slab of pizza around.

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  2. I have previously only considered TIME when writing - the right time for me is early in the morning before my family wakes up. Out of necessity of a firm place to set my coffee and access to an outlet, I write at the kitchen table. I really liked your idea to read through stuff in a different place and that being in a different location can affect your perspective/sensitivities. Thanks for the idea!

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  3. I show up early at the workplace and pen the text, a total of roughly nine hours per given week, then on the weekend type it up, changing the story on the fly.

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