I think I finally understand where the stereotype of the writer working away on a manuscript in a coffee shop comes from.
IT’S HARD TO WRITE AT HOME.
Bloggers with kids? I don’t know how you do it.
Professional writers? I don’t know how you do it.
Bloggers with kids who live in rural areas off of a dial-up connection and no coffee shop anywhere in sight? You are magical, magical beings.
Seriously, though — writing at home is a disaster waiting to happen — it’s just one distraction after another!
And the worst part?
ALL OF THEM ARE SELF-GENERATED!!!
I had a teacher when I was younger named Mrs. Geh. I can honestly say that she’s a stupendous woman and taught me a lot about how I could approach the world around me. One of her FAVOURITE acronyms was
YARFY — You Are Responsible for Yourself
So I’m not going to go transferring the blame onto anyone else for my distractions. And those distractions come in MANY forms.
- If I keep at a task for too long, I might get sleepy — so what do I do? Go to work while lying down to relax. Yeah. Smart move. Doesn’t take too long for working supine to become a nap sublime…
- We tend to see a lot of the things we keep in our homes as one long to-do list. So when you’re trying to work away on your writing, your head’s constantly swerving in other directions, looking at the things you promised yourself that you’d do, but never got around to dealing with. Productive!
- Your stuff is in your house, both good and bad. You have all the tools you use to create content (e.g. computer, pens and pads, reference materials), but you also have your CDs and DVDs, video games, food… essentially, without discipline, your house is pretty much designed to work against your focus.
So what does one do? This post is going to be all about the easier route — avoiding the problem. If you can’t get work done at home, you’re going to have to establish somewhere else where your ideas will flow freely and you’ll do what it is that you’re supposed to do!
University and college campuses are always awesome for this, since they’re basically meant to have just about every possible area as a congregation space, but if that’s not your style (especially if you’re not in university anymore, and if you’re still creeping around as a much older adult — LEAVE THE KIDS ALONE), try one of these:
- Coffee shop — Toronto’s catching up with the world in that we’re finally getting wi-fi in our coffee shops as more of the norm. If you need to be somewhere where it’s customary to hang around and do your work but you won’t have to deal with most of the distractions of home living, this might be option #1
- Library — Yes, libraries still exist. They’re way more diverse than they would have been a couple of decades ago, and still provide ample space for you to get into the zone. They can be calm, relaxing and serene — mostly because they still want you to be quiet while working in there. The nerve!
- Food courts in unpopular shopping centres — These are awesome because no one ACTUALLY wants to shop there. You avoid mallrats, hurried parents and anyone who would usually be causing a loud ruckus, because in all honesty, they have better malls to be shopping at. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a table, and the food likely won’t distract you — none of it’s all that good, anyway. This spot will be even better when it’s NOT lunch time.
- Any area that is densely populated by commuters working 9–5 Monday to Friday at a time that isn’t 9–5 on Monday through Friday — I really don’t think that this needs any explanation.
You’ll notice that I haven’t included any outdoor locales on this list. You might also notice that it’s March and I live in Toronto. Hanging out outside is SO three months from now.
So find your quiet place. Get your work done. Ideally, it’ll be where you live; but if it’s not — it’s a big world out there. Go find your place.