A Place to Write

I’ve been doing this fiction-writing thing on and off for about ten years. Lately, it’s been more “on,” since I’ve been lucky and a lot of things are clicking, falling into place, making sense, etc. One thing that has become incredibly important to my writing, to the actual production of sentences that turn into paragraphs that turn into scenes that turn into stories, is the space I have found to write in.

It’s a library.

Previous to that, I wrote in the bedroom with the door closed. But it’s too cozy in there. I would get into my writing trance and get sleepy, and then fall asleep. It was embarrassing. And what a waste of time! I work a full time job and have about three hours per day, if I’m lucky, to squeeze in some writing. Here’s the other bad thing about writing in the bedroom, or at home in general: it’s also distracting. My dog barks. My boyfriend comes in to check on how I’m doing. I get thirsty. I get hungry. I have a wireless Internet connection. My mom calls.

Earlier this year, I read “Ron Carlson Writes a Story,” by Ron Carlson, who else? In it, he advocates for “staying in the room,” and not getting distracted by all of the above or more. He writes:

The most important thing a writer can do after completing a sentence is to stay in the room. The great temptation is to leave the room to celebrate the completion of the sentence or to go out in the den where the television lies like a dormant monster and rest up for a few days for the next sentence or to go wander the seductive possibilities of the kitchen. But. It’s this simple. The writer is the person who stays in the room. The writer wants to read what she is in the process of creating with such passion and devotion that she will not leave the room. The writer understands that to stand up from the desk is to fail, and to leave the room is so radical and thorough a failure as to not be reversible. Who is not in the room writing? Everybody. Is it difficult to stay in the room, especially when you are not sure of what you’re doing, where you’re going? Yes. It’s impossible. Who can do it? The writer.

Yes. I am the writer! I will find a way to stay in the room. That’s what I thought after I read that paragraph. I decided that I needed a designated location that was The Place Where I Wrote. I considered a local cafe, but settled on the local library, which is amazingly beautiful and quiet and has special study carrels, which are individual nooks that only one person can fit in. They’re like isolation booths without the claustrophobia (they have windows). When I go there, I turn off my phone. Completely. I do not log into the library’s Internet connection. At all. And guess what? I stay in the room. I write for three hours at a time, and I am the most productive I have ever been in my fiction writing. Ever.

I suggest that you find a place where you can write and be productive. Find a place where you cannot be distracted, and stay in the room.

Photo: wrkng Nick Grossman / Flickr, Creative Commons

13 Comments on “A Place to Write”

  1. So weird you wrote about this. I had this same problem the past few weeks trying to finish all my term papers and you know where I ended up? The basement of a library in a booth with no cell phone service.

  2. well, it always happen, when one is writing and you get disturbed, then the whole zeal / intense with which we were writing goes down. Infact even i should try this once, which i have never. thanks and keep on boosting young writers like us.

  3. I do some of my most productive writing on non-WiFi-equipped airplanes. When I’m in front of a browser with 15 pages open to various tech sites that may or may not inform the post I’m writing in a 16th page… maybe not so much.

  4. That’s so true. How depressing. I mean, I always – always – get up and leave when I’m just getting into the flow. Usually it’s because it’s taken me an hour to get there, and so I feel like at least I’ve accomplished something. But you are absolutely right. I need to sit down in the chair and keep going. No wonder I haven’t finished anything in …..mruhummphmmp.


  5. Hi Tracy, thanks for the link to this post!
    For a while I had a very hard time writing at home. I tried the library but it was too quiet for me, my brain didn’t like the stillness, so I had to work at the cafe. I was frustrated because I didn’t always like having to leave the house to work, but if I stayed in–even when the family was out–I got a fraction done. Lately I’ve been ok. I can work anywhere. For me the room is metaphorical, one I create in mind, and if I’m really in there people have a hard time shaking me out! lol
    Glad that you found your space 🙂

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