There are a couple of rules for writers that most people could guess at. One should write every day. Secondly, you should have a place to write that is free from distractions. Well these are not really rules but they are truly great pieces of advice, especially for fledgling writers such as myself. I’m talking about the second rule today but it is related to the first anyway. If you’re going write everyday then it helps if your writing place is easily accessible.
In his most excellent book On Writing, Stephen King prescribes a writing environment free from distractions. No phone, no copies of the latest novel you’re reading, no internet, no blogging and definitely no Facebook. In fact since I’m currently using good old pen and paper for a first draft I can probably do away with the whole computer. A prison cell in other words. If your cell has a window it had better look onto a brick wall or empty car park.
I must say that I agree with the above in theory; I just haven’t gotten around to installing a prison cell or buying an office for writing. Instead I usually write lying on the carpet of my lounge room or at the kitchen table when I’m in house. Other places I’ve written are in a secluded park (like a secret garden) under the train lines between Milsons Point and North Sydney, on the couches of various shopping centres, in libraries too (Steve actually says park benches and library carrels should be last resorts).
Recently I’ve been most productive when I take my notebook and pen to the Westfield shopping centre and choose a café I haven’t tried. I like to people-watch over a coffee and although there are lots of people and noise all around I find that once I start writing these are quite easy to tune out. I don’t bring the latest novel. I don’t have the internet to tempt me. I order an espresso (which obviously doesn’t last very long) and get down to business. The Westfield is only a short walk from my home though rain still proves to be a deterrent for getting to my writing place.
Provided it’s not too busy the café staff will let you sit there for hours having only ordered one coffee. The only problem with this is that if I have the coffee late in the afternoon, say 4pm, I have trouble getting to sleep that night. But that’s a probably a good thing as it pushes me to do my writing earlier in the day. Steve gets his 2000 word quota written in the morning and then has the rest of the day to do other things which seems like a good goal.
The beauty of writing is that you can do it almost anywhere so really all it takes to write consistently is discipline (maybe I’ll write about this when I have some). But café writing combines some fun activities and while I haven’t found my Elephant House yet (none of the cafes in my area have the right vibe), cafes as a group have been where I’ve gotten some good writing sessions in.
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