• Get Out of the House

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Strategies     Comments 3 comments

    In my basement apartment there are two places I can write: the living room or the spare bedroom’s closet. Whenever I have visitors, though, I can’t write—I get a case of shy pen. However once I leave my house, my pen is liberated to sweep across as fast or as slow as the story comes to me. Standard options for places to write outside the house are coffeehouses or cafés because almost every town has at least one and it’s not overly expensive; but it’s not your only option.

    A public library is a quiet place where everyone else is paying attention to their own work. There’s enough activity that you won’t feel like the only living person for miles, but no one will distract you from writing. I like to sit in less visited sections of the library, amongst the books, instead of at a table because it reminds me of my goal (a published work) and it makes it seems more reachable. Community spaces like WriteByNight or a local YMCA also make good places to write for the same reasons.

    Public transportation is another great place to write, if you can get a seat. The scenery and people change and if it gets distractingly loud you can put in headphones. You may elicit strange looks from fellow passengers, but I don’t mind strangers judging me. Plus, like the library, there isn’t a huge binge eating risk—either you can write or you can eat, but doing both while on the bus is pretty difficult.

    The next suggestion is going to sound quite strange, but it’s a habit from my aspiring travel writer days: writing at a destination like an aquarium, zoo, or museum. This is a slightly more costly way to get out of the house but it has a lot of benefits not available elsewhere. There’s a different environment and a steady flow of people who won’t be weirded out that you’ve taken a break to write at a touristy destination. Plus you can observe the people interacting with their surroundings—l ooking at a sculpture, picking up crustaceans, petting a goat, etc. Public parks are also good for this but they are at the mercy of the weather, whereas the aquarium and other indoor locations aren’t.

    Lastly I’d suggest a waiting room—but this one is a bit tricky. Generally hanging out in a waiting room all day to write is a bit creepy, so I wouldn’t suggest doing it for long stretches of time, unless it’s a really big waiting room where no one will notice that you’ve been there for hours without being called. Emergency rooms can be hit or miss and can be distractingly noisy or crowded because an ER’s main purpose isn’t to facilitate writing.

    I’m sure I haven’t thought of all of them, and we’re all such creative people, so can you think of any other off-beat, out of the house places to write?


    Jacqui Bryant’s love for reading, ability to create adventure, and general curiosity for all things unconventional in life may outweigh her ability to write well. But she hopes not. 

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    Justine Tal Goldberg

    “The spare bedroom’s closet”?! What do I have to do to convince you to send me a picture of that?

    When it’s warm outside, writing in a park is pretty awesome. I’ve had some of my happiest moments napping … I mean writing … on a blanket outdoors.

    I love the idea of writing in a waiting room. How about an airport?

    David Duhr

    Airports don’t work for me, but waiting rooms do seem to have an effect. It does seem a bit creepy, but who cares? Writers can get away with being creepy.

    Laura Roberts

    I love the library, though I do tend to favor cafés for the option to eat or drink when you get stuck. Some writers I know swear by writing in bars, though I’ve never been much good once inebriated. I like public places that are free, so a park bench or picnic table in decent weather is a good option, too. Even packing a picnic lunch and hanging out on a free hillside is a good bet, especially if you’re looking to capture some natural settings or get your landscape descriptions on.

    Would love your thoughts, please comment.x