I’ve changed my mind about this question several times and I’ve finally settled on the most boring answer yet. It’s something that, as a writer, we think about a lot. If you want to be inspired then maybe it’s the place, if you don’t want to be distracted then maybe it’s the place, if you need the internet then maybe it’s the place.
There are several reasons why the perfect place is as variable as the writing styles which are expounded within them. It largely depends on the author and the motivation to get the words down, but in this post I’ll look at some of the common spots.
Most writers, and even non-writers, must dream of writing in beautifully dramatic natural landscapes. I used to think that writing on the beach would be a dream come true. How about writing in a field of tall grass with a single tree arched on the landscape? Next to a stream in the middle of nowhere would offer a meditative setting but will it be perfect?
These places are probably great for garnering inspiration but there’s a practical issue with most of them – they’re uncomfortable and distracting. Constant reminders of the weather, the wildlife can annoy rather than endear and how would you sit and write comfortably for hours on end in some tall grass?
The sad truth is that these places are no more than the visions of how we imagined life as a writer before we actually wrote Chapter 1. In reality, very few people wax lyrically whilst gazing out at a beautiful sunset because it’s just too distracting. If you’re surrounded by beauty then you’re going to look at the beauty, not escape into the made up world of your fiction.
The other great misconception. I used to dream about sitting outside a cafe in Rome with a Gitane in one hand and a coffee in the other, watching the world go by and penning my magnum opus. Come on! Would this actually happen?
You’re too busy watching life go by, it’s the same as being awestruck by nature, you’re never ever going to concentrate on your book when all that’s going on around you. Constant distraction will continuously pull you out of your flow and this is the last thing you want as a writer.
This works for me. No distraction, comfortable and in control of your immediate environment, and then time becomes elastic. You can dream whilst your fingers are moving across the keyboard. It becomes rhythmic. You’re really there in your mind.
It’s even better when it’s the same secluded place each day because you train your muscle memory to start writing because you’re sitting in your writing chair. Inspiration comes from all of those other places, the wonders of life around you, but the writing comes from your imagination and you need to let it breathe.
So, although it feels great to think of yourself as a writer and spending your days in great places living the dream, the reality is that being productive is about getting your head down and working. If you like cafes and beaches then write about a cafe on a beach and you’ll be there in your mind anyway.
Until next time…