Finding your ideal writing environment is hard.
We’ve all seen those made-for-TV movies: the ones depicting authors who suffer from writers-block only until renting a vineyard cottage in the secluded European countryside. Talk about fiction.
By happenstance, this past fall I spent a few days at The Grove Park Inn, and upon check-in learned that noted author F. Scott Fitzgerald resided at the hotel during the summers of 1935 and 1936 to pursue his health and writing. According to hotel accounts, even he succumbed to distractions, having produced no notable writing during his two visits at the idyllic setting.
If you’re like me, family life and financials prevent you from renting villas or rustic woodland cabins for extended writing sessions. You’re going to have to write locally and deal with distractions like car horns, barking dogs, and family voices.
In recent months I’ve learned my most fruitful writing occurs between 5am and 8am. A morning person, I find my mind to be clear of distractions and ready to daydream. I sit at my dining room table in the dark except for the glow of the laptop’s monitor. How’s that for romanticizing the modern creative author?
I find the neighborhood dogs are quiet at this time of morning. The television is off. And if I look away from the laptop screen, I am surrounded by infinite black space. It’s practically like Katherine Solomon’s daily commute to her laboratory in Dan Brown’s novel, The Lost Symbol.
I’ve found my ideal writing environment, but not without my share of trial and error. I’ve used the same location in early evening, only to find myself half-listening to the television. I tried the local coffee shop once in a pinch, but was distracted by the bright music and playful baristas. I even tried writing in a park using a pen and pad, but was instead coerced to participate in tossing a Frisbee.
If you haven’t yet found your ideal writing environment, take a few words of advice from American composer and songwriter Cole Porter: