Shelley Widhalm

Posts Tagged ‘Writing Spots’

How to sneak in writing (and where to find good writing spots)

In Writing, Writing Processes, Writing Spots on March 22, 2015 at 11:00 am

Part of the writing process deals with the “what” and the “where.”

The “what” is doing the actual writing and the “where” is the physical place you, the writer, feel most comfortable sitting down and getting lost in the words. But this comfort shouldn’t limit you to writing only when you can show up to your special spot.

Make writing more entertaining by sneaking it in, knowing where to find a few good spots. Don’t let the excuse of not having the space or a short amount of time prevent you from starting. Realize where you write doesn’t have to be perfect and that you can make do just so you can write, even if it’s not at a desk or table.

Start by carrying a notebook wherever you go, except maybe the gym or the swimming pool. Inspiration can hit at unplanned or even awkward moments, such as when you’re out with friends or in a public, non-coffee shop place where pulling out a napkin or scrap of paper isn’t the norm. But do it anyway.

To find a good writing spot, ask yourself a few questions, making sure you’re ready to write elsewhere, too. For instance:

  • Do you need quiet or activity around you?
  • Do you need background noise—such as conversations, music, doors opening and closing and the sounds of food or drinks being made?
  • Do you want an area that’s open or cozy? Do you like working outside or in a small room, such as a closet converted into an office?
  • Do you need bright lights or sunshine, or do you need cloudy weather and low lighting?
  • Do you want to write alone or be around other people?
  • Do you want your things around you set up in a special way?
  • Do you want to go somewhere away from home and the excuses of chores and whatever else can distract you?
  • Do you have a time of day when you do your best writing? Do you need a routine, or a schedule?

Here are a few places you can try: a desk in the bedroom or living room, the library, coffee shops, restaurants, the mall or a porch, deck or patio as long as the weather is warm and the wind isn’t blowing.

Once you find a spot you consider inspiring, yet comfortable, make that your go-to, your office, your special place to engage in and do your writing. It will then become that room of your own.

DIY Writing Retreats

In 52 Writing Topics, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on November 18, 2012 at 11:00 am

In the home improvement realm, being a do-it-yourselfer is par the course.

Writers can do the same, but they won’t need to shop at home improvement stores, buy how-to books or draft complicated plans.

All they need is a little bit of time and a simple plan.

Writers wanting to participate in a writing retreat – the ultimate, prestigious way to get some writing done – can blueprint the cheaper home version.

They don’t need mountain cabins, peaceful lakes or fancy hotels.

For a mini-retreat, all writers need is a quiet place where their work will not be interrupted.

Ideally, set aside a full day or a weekend for this retreat.

Pick a spot to write, free of distractions and the normal routines, such as a coffee shop, mall, library, community part, hotel lobby or bookstore.

Commit a certain amount of time to writing, such as three hours, but allow for 10-minute breaks every hour, or whatever meets your needs. Take a lunch break and return for another writing session.

Set a goal for what you want to achieve by the end of the retreat, such as writing a certain number of chapters in your novel, writing a couple of short stories or working on some other writing project.

Take a portable writing kit, so you have your tools on hand, such as a dictionary and thesaurus, books on the craft, notebooks, journals, pens and music.

And remember to clock in how many hours of work you accomplished, your word count and any other measures of achievement. Compare what you achieved with your regular writing session.

This self-assessment will determine if your DIY retreat (except the cost of coffee or lunch) was productive.