Here are just a handful of places I’ve tried to write over the past year or so. This is when I’m searching for a quick hour on my lunch or when I have an hour to spare and can drop my son off at daycare but then need to find a quiet place to work.
I prefer to write at home, but that’s not always possible and sometimes you have to write on the go.
Some places were more or less successful:
For a while, I tried to take my laptop into the cafeteria or into the garden on my lunch to get a little work done, but I could never fully concentrate. Whenever I’m at work, I feel like I’m “at work” and should be writing something for work and fiction is off limits. I’m not my writer self, I’m a worker bee and I need to get off site, even if it’s just for an hour, if I want to get any fiction work done.
The public library is two blocks from work. I had a few really good writing days there and started to really enjoy it. I’d fly to the library on my lunch. But then I started getting distracted. It’s sort of seedy and something is always going on. There were ambulance visits and people with Tourette’s, that kind of thing. I could handle that. But what I couldn’t handle was the Librarian From Hell.
The Librarian From Hell was a pretty thirty-something redhead who would bitch about her life, her job and her co-workers at full volume behind the Information Desk. I tried using an iPod to block her out, I tried sitting elsewhere, but nothing worked. Her voice carried. Wasn’t this a library? Wasn’t she supposed to shut up? But she didn’t. Her life was filled with drama and she needed to air it. Daily. Or whenever I was trying to work. So I stopped going to the library. It was too much stress.
The Home Run
I used to live about ten minutes away from work. Sometimes I’d try and dash home, log a few minutes work and dash back. But that didn’t really work either. Getting there and back ran around 20 minutes and that’s half my lunch hour (if you want to get technical). And then if I did hit my stride, I’d stay way past my allotted time. That was until a co-worker took me aside and asked me what the hell was wrong with me and why I was taking such long lunches? So I knew that wasn’t really working either.
There are good Starbucks and bad Starbucks. The good Starbucks is when nobody bothers you and you can get some g-d work done. The bad Starbucks is when the staff is playing show tunes at full volume, there’s a huge line, the barista is shouting out orders, kids are crying or some random stranger is trying to talk to you and you think you’re going to scream because you have one hour, one hour to yourself when you get to do what you want to do and now it’s ruined. I’ve tried other coffee shops, but it’s always the same thing. One day, you can get some work in. Another day is a total wash and you lost your hour. And plus, I really resent having to spend $3.95 on a latte just to get a little work done.
The Car Maneuver
I can only do this on Thursdays when I drop my son off at daycare and get two whole hours to write before I have to report to work. But it has become my favorite “off-site” working spot and I’ll tell you why: It is quiet. And nobody bothers me. I can talk to myself, which is something I often do when writing. I’m completely in my own little world and it is awesome and I love it. So I’ve been doing that. I like the library parking lot that faces a leafy, green park. There may be a cemetery in the distance. Or a baseball field. I can’t tell. Last time, a robin kept landing on the windshield and looking in. I felt so happy. Because I was getting work done. Joy.
You’d think I’d be writing Ulysses with all this “finding time to write” time. But writing a novel is hard work and finding the time to focus is even harder.
My schedule keeps changing – with my job, with my son, with my life. And now there’s a new baby on the way. Life changes. And you have to find ways to work around it.
Otherwise, at least in my experience, you’ll never find that perfect stretch of time to write your novel. You have to create it for yourself, however you can.