Where I Write

A little while ago, my writing buddy J. Thomas Ross wrote a post asking authors where they wrote. I didn’t have much to say on the topic at the time. After all, I wrote almost exclusively in my “writing office”—which is a fancy name for one corner of the sofa with the detritus of a three-year-old’s play spread around me in the family room.

Not so anymore. In fact, I am writing this in my car while I wait for the library to open. It is gray and rainy, the sound of the rain on the roof threatening to put me to sleep. Cars are good writing spaces, for short times. I wouldn’t want to spend hours writing in the car, but the hour while waiting for the library is comfortable enough.

But my main writing venue these days is the library. I get a fantastic amount of work done in the 6 hours a week my daughter is in preschool. I made the decision before she even began that I would go to the library to work while she was at school, rather than go home and work.

Why? Because by not going home, I could avoid the distractions that come with home: the laundry waiting to be done, the bathrooms needing washed, the rugs needing vacuumed, etc. Even though I work from home often (and have for 5 years), I cannot FULLY focus—those niggling things nibble at the edges of my mind, taking up energy as I push them away.

So I gained focus by not going home. I also gained more time. Instead of driving an extra half-hour round trip to get home and back to pick up my daughter, I drive a 6-minute round trip to the library and back to her school. That’s a lot of time saved!

More than that, I simply like the atmosphere of the library for writing. Since I write YA and middle grade, I head for the YA & Children’s section and park myself in the lone desk at the very back of the section. The stacks behind me are full of wonderful children’s books and I can practically feel the inspiration wafting from them. Perhaps I’m also hoping that I will gain proficiency and skill by osmosis!

“My” desk sits in front of a large window, so I can enjoy an outside view while inside. It is also for some reason always chilly there, but I don’t mind—it keeps me awake! My desk is far enough away from the children’s area that when they have group activities like Story Time, the noise of the children doesn’t bother me at all. Indeed, the sounds of children enjoying books is like soothing background music.

I know many writers work in coffeehouses or Wegman’s. I could not do that on a regular basis (although I have done it every once in a while). While I don’t need silence to write, I have sharp hearing, so I get distracted by people’s conversations nearby, or as they walk by, or any sudden change in the ambient noise level. I also have anxiety issues, which means that my brain is constantly on alert for danger and tends to see it even when there is none. So a place full of people is a drain on my energy and thus my creativity, because I am constantly having to tell my brain to stop it and focus on the writing.

So the library is perfect for me—quiet but not silent, people there but not on top of me, and no household chores weighing on my mind. I am eager to get to “my” desk every day, and always amaze myself with how much I accomplish.

What about you? Where do you usually write—and where’s the strangest place you have ever written?

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