No, really. Writing is one of those things best done solitary, with no ramblings, people or animals trying to get your attention, no one to see you spill coffee on your shirt (I just did) then say “hey, you just spilled coffee on your shirt.”
I’m still on vacation in Arkansas, although I’m heading home day after tomorrow. While I’ve been here at the in-laws, I use my mother-in-law’s craft room as a place to write. It’s nice and quiet, a ceiling fan over head to keep me cool, a window that I can stare out into the stiff summer heat, watch insects buzz around the flowers. But I’m alone. Every day I sequester myself in this small room, keyboard on my lap, and I write. Yes, I’m on vacation, and I go do the vacation-like things such as swimming or boating, or whatever else is planned, but I don’t think I’ll ever take one where I stop writing. I can’t. It’s become a compulsion that refuses to let go. And I don’t want it to.
These days, a writer can write anywhere, any place. All you need is a notepad, and a pencil. Oh, I mean a cell phone or tablet. You can peck words out riding on a train, or a bus, and if you were writing about a train, or a bus, you could make it more realistic. You could add in all the sounds, the rumbles, the voices chattering all around you, the sound of the guy in the back with headphones on blasting his rap too loud (I hate rap). I don’t ride buses anymore, although I occasionally ride a train. Sometimes I let my wife drive on the long trips just so I can pound out a few paragraphs.
But the truth is, the bulk of my work is done in solitude. Either I confine myself to a room, or when I’m home, I work at the kitchen table with a laptop, or at a desk in our office. I get more work done when I’m alone. I’ve tried to write in the same room with my wife (love you honey!) but she’s more distracting then I want to admit. Sometimes she wants to talk, and I make it a point to give her my full attention, which means stopping in the middle of whatever juicy paragraph I’m writing, turning, and looking at her so she knows I’m listening and not just saying “yes dear,” “uh-huh,” “exactly,” or whatever one or two-word answer my subconscious throws out at her when she expects a response. On the other hand, she could take advantage of me easier that way. hmm. Maybe it’s a good thing I try to listen.
There’s a couple of good reasons that I try to find some place quiet to write. The first one, obviously, is distractions. There’s plenty of things to pull my time away from writing (this blog, for example) without any outside forces dragging me away. Internet, Facecrap, Tweeter, email, other people’s blogs. I’m sure there’s more, but you get the idea.
The second reason, is that I think better when I’m by myself. Even when I’m not distracted with things around me, I think better in the peace and quiet then I do in a car or somewhere else. I can hyper-focus on getting the work done. I feel like the words flow better when I’m alone. When I’m alone, I automatically feel less distracted, more calm, more focused.
What about you? Any other reasons to add, for writing alone? Or maybe you prefer to write in a busy subway station because there’s something about the background noise that lets you think better? Let me know in the comments.