Since I’ve moved to Jersey, I’ve had trouble finding a quiet place to write. It’s difficult because if you can’t work at home, or just want to be outside in the fresh air, unfortunately, the world is a public place, and most people aren’t considerate of the fact that you need to concentrate in order to keep your train of thought.
These are people such as: smokers ( keep reading: not judging you, just that I’m outside for fresh air; I fully realize the irony of that statement living in NJ, but it’s a relative thing), car radios, chatter, *teenage girls (*see chatter on crack), running children…. you get the point.
There are days you have the ability to zone, and days that you don’t; these days I’m finding it increasingly difficult to zone.
We all know by now, even if we’re remotely serious about it, that writing is in fact a discipline, and as in any discipline, you need to be organized, to concentrate, to focus, to think, and to adapt, if necessary; that requires, to a large degree, two ingredients: the first is being alone, the second is being quiet.
That’s not comfortable for a lot of people, and I understand. Their car radios are on from the time they get in it to the time they get out, either with music or some other media like books or language learning. They come home and immediately turn on the tv, or come home and jump on all the social media they didn’t get to at work. I’ve never known anyone who said they’ve come home after a hard day and started a book, either reading or writing one (but I know you’re out there).
Then there are the coffee shop writers, whose ranks I’ve joined, and those who think coffee shop writers are showing off. Maybe some are, and maybe the whole movement even started out that way. But here’s the thing: How much you wanna bet that the cafe’ where J. K. Rowling wrote her first Potter novel is cashing in on that reputation?
How many little holes-in-the-wall places in Spain, France, and Italy claimed Hemingway? You get the point.
I felt self-conscious the first time I set up my laptop in a corner table at my local Borders; it wasn’t crowded, and no one gave me a knowing smirk of derision. Really, no one cared; it’s just that I was aware of the perception. Then some college girls came in and set up shop next to me, and I got distracted, and not much writing got done. If I had been more disciplined, Borders could’ve cashed in on my reputation and saved their business…Isn’t it pretty to think so?
So what’s my point? Finding somewhere quiet to write is essential, but it’s not always possible, so ….
Recognize that discipline doesn’t mean inflexibility; some days, I can work at home, other days, it’s my local coffee shop, and sometimes, it’s the library, and if the weather’s really nice, it’s outside in the park, because it’s the writing that’s the discipline, not the location.
And there are days you’re not going to be able to write X hours a day, even if you told yourself that’s what you would do, because there are days life will crash through the window, kick down the door, and grab you by the throat, and there are days you just won’t feel like it. Try to push it, and you’re just going to slog needlessly through a lot of mud.
Don’t do that to your writing, and more importantly, to yourself.
It’s okay. It evens out; the desire is there, and one or two off days is not going to quench it. When you get back to it the way it works for you for that day, you’ll be that much more productive. Go with the flow, just don’t float away.
Now go get that second cup of joe, and get back to work.