Writing Life: AFK, the benefits to writing away from home

Image © Simply Bike

Do you ever sit down at your desk and open your project of the moment, and think “I can’t do this here”?  Like there’s just some massive weight pressing down on you, refusing to let your imagination take you where you need to go?  Like being at home is ruining your creative flow?

Leave.  No, seriously.  Just leave.

I know, I know “I have kids, Kit, I can’t just leave.”  I’m not a parent, so I sometimes have a hard time relating to this point.  Honestly, though, if you have kids and you can’t get away, try a different room in your house.  Usually write in the office?  Try sitting in the living room.  Have a yard?  Take a notebook or your laptop outdoors and let the kids do what kids do.  Middle of the day?  Go to a playground, let the kids romp about while you sit at a nearby picnic table.  (I’d advise using a notebook and pen at a playground.  Much less likely to get destroyed, and if there’s wifi available–well, I know I can get distracted easily if I have an internet connection–from your kids, not your writing.  Seriously.  Kids are born troublemakers.  Gotta keep an eye out.  =P)

Don’t have kids?  Free to roam?  Use your writing time to discover a diner or coffee shop you’ve never been to before!  (And then, obviously, write there.)  The best part of changing up your routine?  Options.

There are chains like Panera Bread, McDonalds, Crispers, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble that have free wifi, ample seating and outlets, and a staff that, as long as they’re open and you have a drink cup (full or empty) in front of you, don’t care how long you stay.

Then there are the hidden gems.  The mom & pops, the cute little corner shops without a ton of seating, but a bitchin’ menu with those few items that the regulars rave about.  They don’t usually have wifi (though, if you’re in a pinch, you can sometimes siphon off of a chain nearby), their outlets are either limited or nonexistent, and they usually only have one bathroom stall.  But these are the places that are writing gold.  The upsides?  No wifi = No “I’ll only check Facebook once” every five minutes.  No outlets = allowing yourself to doodle and scribble on an actual notebook for once. (There’s an old world romance to it, damn it!)  The best part?  If you go there often enough, the staff and owners are the people who will encourage you in what you’re doing while you spend your time there.  They’re usually a personable staff who connect with their regulars, and we all know how far a smile and a little encouragement goes!

I don’t want you all to think that a writer writes at his desk and toils long into the night.  You don’t have to be a shut-in to get some writing done.  There’s a place where every writer can feel at home away from home; you just have to find it.

What is your writing-home away from home?  Are you comfortable writing outside of your personal writing station?  What do you prefer: wifi or no wifi?



Filed under Writing, Writing Life

10 responses to “Writing Life: AFK, the benefits to writing away from home

  1. Because I don’t have a car, and my house is not in walking distance of anything but old people’s houses, the only place that I can escape to are my front yard (the back yard sucks) and my grandma’s house.
    Apparently, I can’t write if I have cable, but I can write with WiFi. I actually prefer having internet connection. It’s just… easier. I can’t explain it. -__-

    • I also prefer having an internet connection. I do a lot of my researching during my writing. =P

      • amino

        Hmmm, I find that there’s not much research I’d ever do while writing, so it’s a distraction: the upside of fantasy/ personal worlds is that the amount of research is very minimal. >D

      • Really? All I ever write is fantasy to some degree or other. But the technology, weaponry, and lifestyles are always based in fact, so I still have plenty of research to do. Most of it gets done before hand, but I’ll occasionally get to a point where I need to look something up. Like how a particular crossbow or gun fires, or what the inside of a clock tower would be fashioned like.

  2. Sometimes I have to disable my wireless connection so I can get any writing done. The internet is incredibly useful and incredibly addictive. Lately I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk, but I’ve switched to the notebook and pen method for a while, and it seems to be helping quite a bit. The only problem is remembering where I put my notebook!

    I’m hoping it will be easier as my daughter (3) gets older to write at the library or the park, but she’s in a phase where her socialization skills are still rocky, and I have to keep an eye on the situation every second – not conducive to slipping into a fantasy world. But she *loves* being outside, so letting her play in the yard while I watch from the step with my notebook has become a daily ritual.

    When I’m lucky enough to have my mom babysit for a while so I can roam child-free around town, I love to write at Barnes & Noble. There’s something about sitting in a bookstore with a coffee and my laptop that gets the words flowing (and makes me feel like a professional writer :p)

    • Sometimes you just have to get away from the norm. Writing with a notebook and pen also offsets the typing-induced wrist agony. =P

      You’re lucky to have your mom, though.B&N is pretty amazing. Being amongst books is really great for my creative flow, personally. And coffee always helps. =P

  3. Jenifer

    So, where do I sign up for the “mom & pop resturants where you can sit all day and do nothing but eat and write while strangers encourage you” program at?

  4. Erin M

    Great post, Kit! ^_^

    Sometimes I definitely have to switch locations. I find it very distracting to write in public, though (even at a library, which is fairly quiet compared to coffee shops). I usually opt for another room in the house. It really does put me in a different frame of mind, and sometimes it’s enough to kick writer’s block if I’m stuck.

    Pretty much must have internet, though. Like you, I do a lot of my research as I’m writing, and it bugs the heck out of me if I need to check something and can’t. O_o

    • I love writing in public. It makes me feel like I’m part of the world around me. Lol. I know how you feel about the research thing, though. You hit a point where you’re like “crap, I don’t actually know how a 17th century printing press is operated from start to finish…” Personally, I can’t keep writing until I know and can implement the knowledge in my writing. XD

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