Your laptop is charged, you sip a steaming cup of Zen tea and Lyle Lovett and His Large Band rocks your iTunes. You’re ready to work on your newest project, hoping to rack up a thousand words before dinner. The problem: your dog is whining for a walk, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, and you’re reasonably sure that the lawn isn’t going to mow itself. In short, life is conspiring against you; you need a quiet place to write. But where?
The first question to ask yourself, “Do I really need Wi-Fi?” The places available for free Wi-Fi access are likely to be packed with students and others looking for the ‘public living room’ atmosphere offered at both chain and hipster coffee shops around town. Plus, access to internet means the constant ping of incoming emails, Facebook conversations, and needless Craigslist searches.
If internet is a must, then be creative, look around you, and be sure to bring your mobile writer toolkit (more on that later).
- Coffee Shops: Avoid the busy chains and places with an obvious scene. These are disruptive. Be creative and look for a place where you can spend an hour or more without getting dirty looks. In Ithaca, my favorite sleeper locations are Tim Horton’s on Rt. 13, either Ithaca Coffee Company location, and The Shop.
- The library: You have a main branch in the city and smaller branches in surrounding towns and villages. Find an empty table, a carol, or an unoccupied study room. And if the noise level rises to a point of distraction, count on your allies, those steadfast librarians to jump into action so that you won’t have to. In Ithaca, try the Ezra Cornell reading room in the Tompkins County Public Library where “quiet” is a guarantee.
If you can cut the internet cord and maybe even separate from your electronics, locations to write open up into a nearly endless vista.
- Your car: This might seem strange, but sneaking writing time into the place we (sadly) spend much of our time is a practical art. Volunteer to take the kids to practices, be the carpool go-to and leave early. Keeping a notebook in your car allows you to write where you would otherwise be trapped in a time killing limbo.
- Parks and Playgrounds: go renegade. Keep a notebook with you at all times. Drive over to the playground and set the kids free. You will be surprised how quickly your thousand words fly from your pen.
- The rink/pool/soccer field: same as above. Get your kids signed up for lessons 2-3 times a week. Think of it as building your writing schedule.
Finally, every on-the-road author requires certain items in their toolkits. Mentioned above, the notebook. Buy many; buy them cheap. Don’t worry about the color or leather covers. They don’t need to be Hemingway’s Moleskines either. When working on a laptop, it is essential to have headphones. As much as we’d like, we can’t control the ambient noise of different public locations. Plug in the headphones, load up your favorite Pandora station or iTunes list and block everything else out. And if you’re anything like me, a bit of chocolate completes it. You’re ready to go now.
– Jenna Goodman
7 thoughts on “Think, Write. Again!”
Thanks for this. I just bookmarked this & will follow up.
Perhaps this could restart my writing.
Any plans for another Writer’s Workshop, Historical Non-Fiction Narrative again?
I’ve recently moved to area,: the cottages on Boiceville Rd. near Ithaca.
Welcome to the hills of Ithaca, Richard. It’s a great place to write. I haven’t yet booked a fall workshop schedule although there’s great interest in one on building audience platform (build your own WordPress website, learn to blog, pull readers to your writing, SEO, etc). If there’s enough interest, we’ll get a group together for historical non-fiction (my favorite subject). There is a group that meets at TCPL on the first Wed of every month for non-fiction writers you may be interested in joining. Send me an email. I’d like to know more about your writing project.
My own past as well as my Granda’s life interests me.
my Granda, born in Lithuania, attended a 3 month law course in Riga. He & 2 other Jewish students space were set on fire. They killed the other two. Granda . he walked home barefoot, his Dad, took him to the coast & onto a boat to Belfast. He studied English & memorized Shakespeare, & manufactured all the British Naval uniforms during WW2. He made rash decisions & skirted common sense often. I never met him. He invited me to Study at Queens College in Belfast. At the time, I thought sophistication was Ohio & My Baccalaureate is from Miami of Ohio.
I was conceived due to his pressure for my Mother to return to USA to have a son. He had 7 daughters & only One son. The two unacceptable words in County Antrim, Belfast at that time were divorce & spinster. She had returned with my sister & in a house full of young, single women, each with a hope chest.
There’s a bit about Queen Victoria, her adapting Jewish customs, Harland &Woolf shipbuilders (Titanic), etc.
I think it would be found interesting.
Sounds fascinating, Richard. There’s been two relevant recent books which may interest you. Ruta Sepetys is a Lithuanian-American writer whose historical novel, Shades of Gray, is brilliant. And Cathryn Prince’s work of historical non-fiction, Death in the Baltic, is a compelling read. Good writers read good writing.
Your life and history have many interesting elements. Consider buying a notebook and taking it everywhere with you. In your spare moments, start putting down your thoughts, history, and ideas for more writing. You may start to see a story take shape.
Thanks Jenna. Good tips. I set priorities, but it’s so easy to get distracted. So, I take a writing class that allows free writing around the table and then 3 double spaced pages prepared during the week. This means I write at least two new things a week, and one of them usually becomes a blog.
But I can sit at my desk and suddenly it’s noon and I’ve been on FB and answering emails for two hours. Yikes!