We write against the void. The void will always be there. It will be there every time you approach your writing place.
We’ve all heard about the importance of place in marketing – how the failure or success of any product is dependent on the place, i.e., the availability of the product at the right place for the right customer. Whenever a new product is launched, significant focus is made on the distribution of the product because there is no point of pre-marketing, advertising and creating a hype about a particular product or service if the consumer can’t even find it?
The same is true for a writer. Place is very important for a writer, and it has a very important presence in a writer’s life. The only difference is that in marketing, you put the product in the right place; but in a writer’s world, you create the product in the right place. That book, that blog, that article, that poem or whatever you’re writing can be absolutely perfect if you work on in an absolutely perfect place.
Therefore, if you’re a writer, and if you want truly become an expert at what you do, you need your special writing place. No matter where you live, and no matter what you do, you need a writing place. It doesn’t have to be something big or magnificent. It can be a small office, or it can be your kitchen table. It can be a bench across the lake, or it can be your favorite spot at your local coffee shop. Wherever it is, it is important to have a workplace which enables you to focus on your writing and which inspires you to write.
The concept of a special writing place is not new. This is not something we’ve come up with out of the blue. Most famous authors had or have a special place which they dedicate to their writing. Every writer needs a room of their own to be productive, and this room doesn’t necessarily have to have four walls. D.H. Lawrence used to write under a tree. “The big pine tree in front of the house, standing still and unconcerned and alive…the overshadowing tree whose green top one never looks at…One goes out of the door, and the tree-trunk is there, like a guardian angel. The tree-trunk, the long work table, and the fence, ” is how Lawrence described his writing place. It was his special place where he felt the most comfortable and where words flowed without any trouble. Robert Graves did all his writing in a room that was furnished with objects that were made by hand. Ben Franklin wrote in the bathtub.
The question is: why is a place so important for a writer? There are two logical explanations. First, when writers write, they need to be free from any distractions, and they want to be in an environment where they feel the most creative. Second, writers tend to imaginative, and their sense of awareness about their external environment is much more enhanced as compared to a regular individual. A special place, your special place, can provide you the external stimuli you need to write and at the same time, it can provide you a safe haven where you can hide out and become oblivious to everything around you. Your writing place thus serves a dual purpose: it is a place which inspires you, and it is a place which offers you an escape from distractions.
Every writer needs to have a special spot. But this special spot is not some specific type of place. It can be any place where you feel most productive and where you think you can produce your best work. For example, J.K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter in a cafe in Edinburgh. Called “The Elephant House,” this place is considered to the birthplace of Harry Potter. Rowling believes that the best place to write is in a cafe. Alexander Chee, writer, poet and journalist, loves to write in trains. He claims that he is most productive in trains because of the anonymity and displacement they offer.
Roald Dahl, one of the most popular children’s authors, used to write in a hut behind his home. He would sit on a comfortable chair, lay a sleeping bag over his legs, place a tray over the sleeping bag and then start writing.
There is another very important association that place has with writing. Some writers really need to be in the place they’re writing about.
For some writers, research is the most critical element of their work. And this research generally involves visiting and spending in the location which is represented in the book. A perfect example of this is Dan Brown and the research that he conducted for his book “The Da Vinci Code.” The Da Vinci Code has sold over 80 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 51 languages. Brown’s style of writing is unique in the sense that he uses history and real events and builds a fictional story around them. For the Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown spent a year researching. This did not just involve reading other books and gathering ideas. Brown’s research is usually more extensive. He reads books. He studies newspaper articles. He conducts online research. And once he’s exhausted all the reading material, he then moves on to primary research. He conducts personal interviews with historians. He visits the locations he intends to talk about in his book.
This is the second element of place. If you want to be a writer whose work truly inspires; whose words engage and connect with the readers; and whose material impresses and inspires others because of its thoroughness and accuracy, then you have to physically be in the place that is central to your book. Now we understand this might not be possible for every writer. But we do want to highlight that whenever possible, a personal visit to the location might add more credibility to your words. This might not be applicable to all genres, but if the place is central to your book, it needs to be central to your writing process.
There is no doubt that you can improve your writing productivity if you have a special writing place. But now that we’ve established the importance of finding a writing spot, the next logical question is: how can you find that special writing place? Here are some must-have’s that you should keep in mind when shortlisting your spot:
Location, Location, Location
The first thing you need to do when you start looking for your special writing place is to establish what kind of place you want it to be. Do you want to be around the sea? Do you like to be surrounded by trees? If nature is not your thing, do you want something more professional/official? A small office space? An empty conference room? Do you want to be around your children but also want to work in peace? In other words, do you want to have a home office? Do you just want to keep it simple and set up shop in your backyard or your front porch? Do you want to work in a park and get inspired by the people who walk past you from time to time? Do you want to be around your best friend and go hang out with them while you write? It completely depends on what you feel would work for you. Some writers feel most at home in a library so for them; there is no better place. Some would go hide-out in a cottage till they finish their back. Identify your ideal location and then go about finding it.
It Has To Be Free From Distractions
A key reason why writers need a special place is to stay away from distractions. Thus, when evaluating which place would suit you best, think of the things that tend to distract you when you write. Again, this varies from person to person. One writer may have no problem writing in a cafe with multiple people coming in and out, walking here and there and talking endlessly while others cannot write even one word with so much hustle and bustle. Find out what distractions bother you and then find a place where those distractions are either completely absent or at a minimum. Once again, this varies from writer to writer. Some writers see music as an inspiration while others find it distracting. Some get distracted by family while others feel more inclined to write when they have people around them doing their thing. When we say it has to be free from distractions, we mean things and elements that distract you or hinder your writing process. J. K. Rowling might have written Harry Potter sitting in a cafe, but there might be writers out there who couldn’t imagine penning down even 500 words with so much activity around them. This is your spot, and you know best what your distractions are. That is why you are in the best position to find a place that you think is free from things that might bother you when you’re writing.
It Should Be Comfortable
A writing spot should be your “go-to” place. It should be a place where you feel most comfortable; where you feel relaxed, motivated, calm and happy. The room temperature should be just the way you like it. The couch/desk/bed should be how you want it to be. The internet should be functional. There should be cell service (if you need it) and no cell service (if you don’t need it). There should be a computer/laptop; a recorder if you like to take notes. There should be pens, pencils, post-it notes, and whiteboards. There should be comfortable clothes at easy access. In short, your writing place should have everything you need to feel comfortable. This is essential so that you don’t have to run around for things and you can utilize your time doing what you do best – write.
Keep in mind that many writers go through a process of trial and error before they find that perfect spot. So don’t panic if something you think is “just right” does not turn out be right after all. Nobody is going to trap you in a dungeon and take you out once you’ve finished your book. You’re free, and it is this freedom that makes writers who they are. Many writers change their writing space several times before they find “THE” place. So just relax. Think and outline exactly where you love to write. Make a list of your favorite places. Specify why you love those places. Select your favorite place from this list. And then think whether you could potentially be a more productive writer if you worked there.
The right writing place matters because location can really inspire a writer. Artists, in general, are known to be highly sensitive of their surroundings. Not only do their surrounding inspire them, but if the surrounding is not right, it can put them off writing completely. The external environment affects all of us, but for writers, it can have a poor external environment can have a negative impact on their writing. Your writing place can influence your mood. This can make you feel creative and imaginative, or it can you make dull and grumpy. It is widely believed that location can make a writer’s words come alive. That is probably why writers love to explore. They love to stroll. They love to think while looking at the sea. They even love looking at the rain.
These are not stereotypical behaviors. But it is just an attempt to highlight the fact that location can influence how good or bad you write. Some writers cannot write unless there is absolute silence while there are others who need the sound of music to get inspired. There is no one “amazing” writing place per se. But there is one “perfect” writing place for you. All you need to do is find that place and then use that place to produce your best material ever.