Hi there, and welcome to The Daring Writer. I’m Sherry Peters of sherrypeterscoach.com. I am an award-winning author and a coach for writers looking to bust through the block, the self-doubt, and the fears holding them back.
Today we’re talking about writing when your home office isn’t an option. I’m going to talk a little bit about why it is important to be able to write anywhere, and then I’m going to give you a few tips on how to be a productive writer, wherever you are.
A lot of us are brilliant procrastinators. We can come up with all kinds of excuses to not write. One of those excuses often relates to physical writing space. We will say our offices aren’t clean enough, or we don’t have the right desk. A more problematic excuse, is that we are travelling, or that we just are not at home.
On my Facebook Page, I’ve got a series on Wednesday’s called Writing Spaces Wednesdays, where I post pictures of my writing spaces, and those of other authors. The first one I posted was the view from my writing spot when I was on vacation in Mexico last year.
That was probably my ideal writing space. If I could, my ‘office’ would be an ocean-side breezy gazeebo/patio/porch type spot. For this land-locked prairie-girl, one week every few years is all I get, so I have to make the most of it when I can.
I posted that picture, not just because right now we’re in a Polar Vortex and I really wish I was on the beach instead, but to demonstrate that writing can happen anywhere!
Truth be told, most of us are quite comfortable writing in some place that isn’t the home office. Either we sit in some other part of our home, such as the living room or dining room; or we’ll go to a coffee shop for an hour or two on a Saturday. We know we don’t need to have the big oak desk or the ocean view to write.
I actually find it difficult to write in my home office. I am far more comfortable on my couch with my feet propped up on my coffee-table than I am sitting at my ergonomic computer desk, largely out of habit. My dog is far more likely to be less demanding of my time if I’m on my office computer though, so she’s forcing a habit change!
There are times, though, when writing at home or in a coffee shop will not be enough.
- You may be on an extended trip.
- You may have to care for someone in the hospital and you have long hours of sitting and waiting.
- You may be travelling and spending hours in airports and hotels.
- A deadline may be looming.
If writing is something you want to do consistently, you need to find a way to make it happen, even when your circumstances change.
Let me give you a few examples:
Susan Forest and her husband were on a three-month motorcycle tour through Europe a couple of years ago. She outfitted her helmet with a microphone and was able to dictate her novel while they were on the road.
Robert J. Sawyer is known to write in the car on the way to a book launch if he needs to get his daily words written.
Kevin J. Anderson dictates his novels while on his regular hikes.
And Nora Roberts is well known for writing in airports while travelling. Delays just mean more writing time, not time to socialize in the airport lounge.
I wrote in Mexico on my vacation for two reasons. The first was that I was working on a short story and the submission deadline was approaching. The other was that I had not been in a good headspace for writing for a long time, and I knew being by the ocean would change that. I had planned for this vacation for over a year so I wasn’t going there to be more creative. The ocean always has a relaxing effect on me, and so when I was struggling to write, I knew I needed to take it with me, and take the opportunity to write in the mornings, where I could be more creative.
If you want to be flexible with where you write, you must:
- Decide that is what you are going to do. Be deliberate and about this decision. Don’t let the airport bar distract you. Don’t let an evening out be an excuse for not getting your words in, if that is what you need to do. If you are with other people, tell them you intend to use that time for writing and that you do not want any distractions. Move away from your companions if you have to.
- Be prepared. You won’t always have your desktop computer with you, or your laptop. Perhaps you can only bring a pen and notebook. Bring a notebook and a laptop with you if possible. Give yourself options. If you’re used to writing on a computer, writing long-hand might generate some new ideas, and the same thing if you are used to writing long-hand and are switching to a laptop. Figure out if dictation is something that would work for you. Preparation isn’t just for how you write. There are going to be different sounds, different people and activities around you that will distract you. Bring headphones with you to shut out the noise and keep you focused on your writing.
- Have one or two portable writing cues. These are little things that when you wear them or look at them, you know it is writing time and your brain switches into writing mode. It can be a specific kind of pen or notebook, a message on your screensaver, a certain pair of writing gloves or socks or t-shirt that you regularly use or wear at home, that you can take with you.
Let me summarize. 1. Decide that is what you are going to do. Be deliberate and about this decision. 2. Be prepared. You may need to change the tools you use to write. And be prepared to block out distractions. And 3. Have one or two portable writing cues that signal to your brain that it is writing time.
Your writing time will be interrupted. It will be shorter than you might normally want it to be. Your daily word count will be lower. That is OK. You do not have to spend your entire vacation writing. Nor do you have to write every time you’re in the car going somewhere. When you do, when you have down-time, and your goal is to write regularly and consistently, you do not have to let your schedule be completely disrupted. You may even find it cathartic or refreshing.
When you have that book contract that you have always dreamed of, you are going to have deadlines that will force you to find new ways to get your word count and editing done. Start now so that you when that day comes, you will have an easier time.
If you guys are interested and this is value-based to you, check out my coaching program at sherrypeterscoach.com. I will put the link in the comments.
Until next week,