This first appeared in The Writing of a Wisoker on the Loose in August 2011.
There are some places I write best in, where I am focused, relaxed, creative, and the words just flow. My bedroom is one place I can write, yet I find it difficult to do so in my living room office. I work well at coffee shops and bookstores, but not restaurants. I feel more comfortable in certain cities in my area than in others. As you can guess from such detailed diagnostics, I’ve made quite a study of “where do I write well” so I can, obviously, write.
I’m sure you relate to the above story. There are places you can write and places you can’t, where the words come easily and where they withhold themselves, where you’re comfortable and where you’re tense. Yes, there are probably people who can write anywhere, and those are fortunate individuals in my opinion, as most writers I know find that geography affects productivity.
Why we write better and more productively in some areas and not others has intrigued me for some time; the nature of creativity is something that has fascinated me since my youngest days. Though I could probably go on forever about the psychology of these “writing areas,” I’d like to focus on detailing ways to identify your “writing areas”–and perhaps to stimulate you to find new ones.
Examining writers and artists I’ve known (including myself), I noticed these “writing areas” fall into a few specific categories. If you’re trying to find, understand, or expand your ideal area to write, consider your work may be best done in:
The Room: Some of us just write better in a specific location in our own dwelling, be it our office, studio, or bathroom.
Dwelling/Non-Dwelling: Some people write best within the confines of their own home (or even, as above, a specific part of it). Other people are far more comfortable writing away from home–and perhaps away from the varied distractions, pressures, and habits associated with it.
Specific Building: A library, specific coffee shop, museum, or other location out of your house may be your writing comfort zone. It may not matter where within this special place you are–you just write better there. Such areas may work due to old memories, unique traits, or just a general atmosphere.
Specific Business: This may seem a strange one, but you may be able to write better at a specific business or institution. It doesn’t matter which bookstore, but you like to write at bookstores. You can write in any coffee shop, but not in a deli. I myself notice certain chains have specific personalities, and there are some businesses I write better at–but not at similar stores in another chain–I have yet to figure out why I can write at Barnes & Noble but not Borders.
Specific City or Place: Sometimes an entire city or town, or a specific part of one, is comforting to you and where you write well. That general area is one where your writing ability comes out. This may sound quite odd, but I’ve noticed creative people are often very attached to certain towns and cities, and as anyone who has traveled can attest, places have their own personalities; the town I live in is very laid back but its immediate neighbor is always go-go-go.
Specific Region: I live on the edge of Silicon Valley, and it is definitely its own place, distinct from other parts of the Bay Area in culture, attitude, and even language. Some places just have their own personalities. Large regions or mega-regions may just “feel” right to you, allowing you to write almost anywhere within them. When I moved from working in San Francisco to Silicon Valley proper, the change in ‘regional feel’ was shocking in a way that is hard to describe, a visceral difference I am still trying to understand.
We’re all different in what works for us, but what we have in common is most of us need the right place to write. That is unless you’re one of those fortunate people who can write anywhere–in which case, take some time and write me as to what your secret is!
Steven Savage in his own words:
I’m Steven Savage, and I am Geek 2.0.
OK … that sounds either pretentious or obscure, and I try not to be either too much. So what do I mean by Geek 2.0?
Geek 2.0 is a lifestyle. It’s about taking the geeky values of technology, knowledge, creativity, and media as far as possible. It’s a way of life – and a way of contributing to society.
I believe in taking Geekiness farther–into the next iteration, into 2.0.
Steven Savage is the author of the Fan to Pro blog and books (Unlocking Career Insights With Your Hobbies; Convention Career Connection; Focused Fandom: Cosplay, Costuming, and Careers; Focused Fandom: Fanart, Fanartists, and Careers; Inhuman Resources; and Progeek Rising), has his own web site, and incidentally is the mind behind the popular Seventh Sanctum site. He also writes for Nerd Caliber and Comics Bulletin.