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Writing Sanctuary

July 18, 2011

My desk sucks.

It’s not an actual desk.  It’s really an antique side table, ancient and not meant to hold anything other than some papers and a vase with flowers, maybe a glass bowl with potpourri or colorful rocks.  The front is curved outwards with an ornate design that likes to dig into my leg when I’m sitting at it. The wood finish is chipping, which means if I rest my hands on it at all I get little paint chips embedded in my palm.  In my small, one-bedroom apartment, it is situated in an awkward place in the living room, right where it opens out into the miniature hallway.

I hate writing there.

It feels claustrophobic and clunky.  When I sit there, I can sense all of my creative energy shriveling up.  I get this urge to splatter paint all over the wall, put stickers on everything and hang a plant from the ceiling, something to make the space “funky” like a gaudy personal graphic design studio.

Instead, I just look for other places to go when I’m feeling the urge to up my word count.

For NaNoWriMo last year, I bought a netbook.  It saved me.  I could write anywhere.  I’m sorry, but I’m not a pen and paper type of girl.  I get antsy if I can’t immediately edit things.

I could go out in the sunshine and look for inspiration in nature but I have this thing where mosquitoes love me.  Smelling like bug spray tends to stifle my creative spirit.

I could go to the library but it tends to be uncomfortably crowded, and I’d probably spend the whole time browsing for books anyway.

I could lounge on my bed in the quiet of my room but then I’d just fall asleep with the blank word document open.

So I’ve become one of those coffee shop writers, the sort I rather like to make fun of.  Walk in sporting a nice sweater and a thick, colorful scarf even though it’s warm out, with a cute cap that sort of matches and thick eyeliner around my eyes, order a fancy drink with a ton of flavored syrup but non-fat milk, also an apricot danish or some weird bagel with lots of seeds stuck to it, please, thank you very much, sit in the corner next to an outlet and a window so I can pretend I’m out in the sunshine without the inconvenience of actually being outside, pull out my trendy pink netbook, put in my headphones so I can listen to some obscure acoustic piece, sip my hot drink and write my deeply moving novel about romance and the pain of life, and the story is really just an allegory for some great human truth, with the characters each representing a different aspect of mankind at its core…

I’m not quite that pathetic yet, but it’s a downhill slope and I’m halfway there.  My netbook really is pink, kind of a pale pink-purple (“lavender frost” according to HP’s official listing), but that comes from the side of me that likes My Little Pony and has a small collection of Bella Sara cards.  Just because I’m 25 doesn’t mean I have to be a grown up.

Really, though, coffee shops are great places to write.  You get a warm, tasty drink and a nice environment that’s quiet but not too quiet.  You can keep an eye on people as you look for character inspiration.  You can eavesdrop on conversations and steal bits and pieces to throw into your book later, or just sit and listen to your headphones loudly enough to drown out the crappy music that’s playing through the speakers in the ceiling.

I don’t know why it’s such a big deal for me to have the “right” environment to write in.  I envy those people who can just pull out a pen and a scrap of paper anywhere they please and scribble out their next masterpiece.  Someday I’ll have a space set aside for writing, a “writing sanctuary” as so many writing guides call it, but for now I have to make due with going somewhere away from home to get anything done.


From → Inspiration

  1. Seri permalink

    I’ve always wanted to be one of those “cofee shop” writers actually XD

    I even have the perfect coffee shop, it’s amazing and opens really late so I can stay there for hours. I just lack the netbook as my laptop is too large to and just isn’t practical.

    I think the right environment is really important as you need to feel comfortable (I think having the right environment is important for everything you do, not just writing) – I used to go sit on a cluster of rocks in a field to write.

    Hope you eventually get a better space to write in! =)

    • I have two pretty decent options. One is a great environment, but a bit of a drive and is usually actually pretty full of people competing for wall outlets. The other is a Tully’s down the street. Not a huge fan of Tully’s, but the interior of this one is pretty comfortable.

      We don’t have many fields around here. I’m still keeping an eye out for good spots, though. 🙂

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