By Courtland Anderson
There seems to be this stereotype of writers and other creative types, “I wake up every morning at 7am, take a morning walk through the woods outside my tiny cabin before sipping my coffee and reading the paper, all in preparation for writing today’s piece,” which is not always the case. That process is, of course, right for someone out there somewhere and if that person is you, congratulations, you found your system. For the rest of us, though, finding a space to sit down and write can be a difficult task.
There seems to be a pair of sliding scales used to determine what you might like in a writing space. These two axes are Comfort and Privacy. There are other aspects, but these two factors seem to be very important to most writers.
The stereotypical writer, and those like them, would be on the High Comfort and high Privacy side. They prefer to be in a place all by themselves, not interrupted by any other people or things that would distract them from their work. This may manifest in them writing in their office, on their bed, their local library; some place where they know they can write peacefully. They also prefer high comfort, which often takes the form of comfy clothes, a cup of hot coffee or tea, a long afternoon with nothing else to stress about, and so on.
On the very opposite end of the scale, there are people like me: the low Comfort and low Privacy people. These writers enjoy crowded spaces, perhaps spaces not even intended for writing. These are the people you find in a coffee shop or on a bench at the park, places that may be peaceful, but still have people all around. It may be difficult to grasp the idea of discomfort as a writing catalyst, but it’s true. In my experience, I find that I do my best work when I’m stressed about a deadline or am not quite as comfy as I could be. It keeps me sharp; it keeps me thinking. It allows me to always be engaging with what I’m going to write next. This discomfort may manifest as a heavy pair of shoes, a chair with maybe not enough lumbar support, a time frame that doesn’t quite allow you to sit and reflect as much as you could.
This is not an encouragement to slack off, mind, it is simply an acknowledgment of a system that could work, and has worked for many writers. What’s important is that you find where you land on this scale, and choose your environment appropriately. Maybe experiment with different spaces next time you write. Instead of going to that coffee shop, try cozying up in bed or on the couch. Instead of those lo-fi beats, tune into some heavy metal instead. It’s all about what works for you.
-30 N Staff