Finding Your Writing Place

I enjoy writing when I’m flying. Perhaps it’s the lack of distraction that being on a plane typically affords me, perhaps it’s habit more than anything else. I’ve found that if there’s one consistency to my travels the past three years or so, it’s that if I’m on a plane, I’m finding a way to write.

Getting on a flight to anywhere is a rather expensive place to find solace and comfort to allow creativity to flow. If I had to choose between finding a couple of hours of (relative) quiet, distraction-free time, and saving a couple hundred bucks for a one-way flight, I’d take my chances sitting at a Panera and hoping they had black bean soup that day.

I bring this point up for a purpose. Specifically, I believe that anyone who endeavors to be a creative writer needs to find a place that they can call their writing place. What that writing place looks like will differ a bit person to person, as there’s no single trait that is universally revered when it comes to creativity. There are a few things I think need to be considered attempting to find your writing place.

Noise Level

First and foremost, consider the noise level you’re comfortable writing in. I can personally deal with minimal levels of ambient noise around me when I’m writing, particularly if my project is work related or a blog piece that’s non-fiction. However, if I’m working on a short story or other piece of fiction, I need near silence in order to concentrate and work effectively. One of the people I went to grad school with wrote all of her course papers sitting in a Starbucks at six in the morning. While that certainly wouldn’t be my cup of tea, I’m all for whatever works.

I would recommend that if you are writing, you avoid using headphones to change the noise atmosphere around you. While I’m guilty of ignoring this rule at times myself, I still preach this as putting in headphones encloses you in a bubble from the world around you. In particular, if you’re writing creatively, putting headphones in masks you from potential inspiration going on all around you, be that the conversations in a coffee shop, the sounds of the outdoors, or even the mechanical whirr of the air conditioning in your home.

Proximity

Regardless of if you’re someone who has to write for your job or if you’re someone who writes purely for pleasure, the proximity of your writing place is key for being able to grab inspiration whenever it arises. This doesn’t mean that your writing place has to be in your home. Although it’s certainly helpful if your writing place is in your home, the key is to be able to get to it quickly when inspiration does strike.

I recognize that not everyone can drop what they’re doing at a moment’s notice just to chase an idea that we must write about. Responsibilities, be they work, family, or child related, regularly take priority over our writing for good reason. For those who have smartphones, if you’re struck by a moment of inspiration, but don’t have the time to write, I’d recommend making use of a note saving program like Evernote to quickly take down the idea and move on. Even if you never end up writing about that specific idea, it’s out of your head, allowing you to think more clearly and focus on whatever tasks you have at hand.

Time of Day

Finally, it’s important to recognize how time of day impacts our writing place. Think of your writing place as if it were your bed. You go to your bed at nighttime because it’s time to sleep, and your bed will help you to sleep. If you were to go to your bed in the middle of the day, you might take a nap, but it’s more likely that you’re not using the bed for sleeping at that time. If you spend too much time in your bed when it’s not time to sleep, you’re training your body to believe that the bed isn’t always for sleeping, which may make it harder to fall asleep when you actually need to.

Your writing place works by the same premise. If you’re a nighttime sleeper, you’re typically not going to sleep during the day. Why would you go to your writing place first thing in the morning if you know you write the best in the late afternoon? You’re doing nothing but wasting your time. Find the time of day you’re the most productive and stick to going to your writing place during that time of day. Many productivity applications can help you determine when you’re the most productive for certain tasks (RescueTime is the one I use personally). Take advantage of the opportunity to put data in front of you and learn when you’re best served to write.

Do you have any recommendations for someone looking to find their perfect writing place? Sound off in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “Finding Your Writing Place

  1. I’m like you–different types of writing have different requirements. I can write a blog post just about anywhere with internet access, although I’ve noticed I do much better if I’m not playing music (light background music at a coffee shop or something is fine, as long as it’s not coming from my computer) and if I’m sitting up straight. I can do it with Tyler around interrupting me every ten minutes or cats jumping all over me, and I can do it any time of day.

    Fiction is different (partly because my fiction tends to be the direct opposite of my blog posts–serious, thoughtful, literary, even old-fashioned). I think my favorite place to write fiction is at a coffee shop, preferably in the morning or afternoon. I have to be alone, but I love being surrounded by activity and strangers and noise. It’s inspiring to me. I have also noticed that for fiction I do best writing in a word processing program that is very minimal and easy to look at, whereas I can write straight in WordPress, with all the clutter, for my blog and I’m totally fine.

    I recommend to other writers, if they write at home at all, to set aside their own space. I recently converted my dining room into an office, which is FANTASTIC, but if you don’t have that kind of flexibility I recommend at least finding a way to make your kitchen table or your sofa or wherever a comfortable, personal space for you when you sit down to write. Keeping that space tidy and nice-looking is important too. It really makes a world of difference to have a space that feels like it’s YOURS for writing in.

    Great post Tim, thank you so much for sharing! Gosh I wish you’d been around like 10 years ago when I started writing–I seriously needed all this advice you’re giving out then!

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    1. That’s a ton of info that I think can help out others as well. I’ve noticed that a lot of people really love writing with music, however I can’t always do it. Furthermore, the kind of music I’m able to listen to is somewhat dependent off of what I’m writing. I can’t (typically) listen to music with words when I’m writing a fictional story, as the lyrics of the song confuse the dialogue in my head. It sounds stupid, but it’s true.

      I don’t think all of the advice I have is great (or even astounding), however if someone is just starting off as a blogger, I think I have a lot of guidance I can offer them. Granted, I’m probably not the right person to talk to when it comes to some things (say, blog layout or graphic design), however I can usually speak to content creation pretty well.

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  2. I like this. And I agree with you about the noise. If I’m blogging, I can have some background noise (although not noise from my computer) and still be able to concentrate. But if I’m writing any kind of fiction or when I had to write papers in school, it had to be silent.

    I don’t even like listening to music when I blog. I get distracted so easily.

    My writing place is luckily my bed… it’s the quietest place in the house and it’s where I feel most comfortable. So I’m usually already there when inspiration strikes.

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    1. I currently use my bed as my primary writing place in my current apartment. With that said, I’ll be moving here in the coming months, and have yet to find a place that I can consistently write in the new place (I’ll be moving in with my fiancee, so I’ve had some time to look for a writing place). It’s really weird. Some places I’ve lived I just haven’t felt comfortable writing in. I’m not a fan of it when it happens.

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