Legend has it that writers are a solitary breed, holing themselves up in their garrets and pounding out works of fiction on their typewriters, and to a certain extent, I agree: it’s sometimes hard to get writing done when there are people who want to talk to you, particularly if those people aren’t writers themselves. Maybe you’re in your living room and your family wants to watch TV. Maybe the family in the house behind yours has decided to have a night-long Lady Gaga karaoke festival. Or maybe, even, you’re alone in your bedroom or study, but the people who live in the apartment below you have decided to have a knock-down, drag-out fight with their children, and you can’t help but overhearing.
But even writers who live for their alone time can’t shut out the world entirely — it would be detrimental to their writing. The less interactions you have with others, the more quickly you start to lose the very skills that have made your writing what it is. Being out in the world means you hear the rhythms of real dialogue; you’re absorbed in the sights and smells and sounds of the real world — and you can put those details to use in your writing.
With that in mind, I do most of my writing in cafes, which I realize is a cliche in its own right. However, I’ve had some success with it: I wrote 41,000 words of KING, one of my current works-in-progress, while I was holed up in the study room at Bricks and Scones in Los Angeles. When I’m not in L.A., I’ve also found great writing environments at Campbell’s Orchard Valley Coffee, Mountain View’s Red Rock Cafe, and Iowa City’s famous Prairie Lights. (Starbucks, sadly, has not proved to be as productive an environment.)
The above cafes allow me to be in the world — listening to conversations and generally being a grade-A Creeper in ways that other authors will understand — while simultaneously avoiding any extended human interaction. And if that sounds curmudgeonly, well, what did I say about writers being a solitary breed?
Fellow authors/writers: Where do you write? Where do you do your best work, and why?