Sunday, April 28, 2013

Go out and explore

Something I don't hear people saying often enough is "I left my desk today." It's a shame, too, because I think it would solve one of the biggest problems I see writers talking about.

I would be a wealthy, wealthy man if I got paid every time I heard somebody say something to the effect of "I can't focus on my writing." Or "What's the perfect writing environment?" Or countless variations on this question. And it's a good question, too. What is the perfect writing environment? How do you focus? How do you remove distraction? Good questions. Important questions. Hard to answer questions.

Yes, this is another problem that has no universal solution. Like most aspects of the writing process: What works for me will not necessarily work for you. Right now I'm sitting on my couch, listening to music, typing on my laptop on my couch. I'm focused. The music isn't distracting me. I'm doing some writing. This is where I spend probably half my time writing at the moment.

When I wrote 'Sorceress' Blood' I didn't have a laptop. I wrote it on a desktop and so, of course, I wrote it all sitting in an office chair at a desk.

Lately, while working on my next novel, I've been taking my laptop and going to a coffee shop down the road from where I live and writing until the battery gets low. Coffee shops are a fantastic place to write and the extra caffeine can be great for focus and productivity. Personally, I prefer a nice cup of tea but coffee shops rarely have good tea.

Those places work for me. Couch, desk, coffee shop - I can write in all these places successfully. I've also tried to write on the train or in a park and I find it much harder to focus in those places for various reasons. All writers have their preferences and they're individual - hence, no obvious or universal solution. But that doesn't mean the answer isn't easy, if you know how to start.

More writers should be saying "I left my desk today." or even "I didn't go to the coffee shop today." The best way to find your perfect writing environment is to go looking. Get out of your comfort zone. Try something new. Take a laptop or an iPad or a pad of paper and try writing in different places. Just spend an hour or two and see how it feels. It might be better, it might be worse but you'll never know unless you try.

Go out and explore.

I often talk about how important it is for writers to treat each other as friends and allies. Knowledge should be shared and what we learn from our experience is no different. But nobody can do the writing for you. Nobody can tell you how to work because it's different for everybody. I can't tell you how YOU can remove distraction or what the perfect writing environment is for YOU. I can only tell you what's best for ME. But we can always point each other in the right direction.

The next time you're struggling to put word on the page - put on some pants, pack up your writing gear and go out and explore.

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