Where do you write? I’m writing this in a room full of guys watching football. Nobody’s asking for my attention and that’s great.
It took me years to realise that I can focus in noisy environments. I grew up in the countryside so I was used to silence when I wrote. Going to university and learning to cope with the noise of other students was difficult. I still don’t like writing when there is loud music in the room above. Boom, boom, boom, boom.
These days I often write in coffee shops. A lot of people do and some businesses seem to encourage it. My local Starbucks provides big tables with power sockets. I don’t go there often as I don’t like the drinks range, though it’s nice once in a while. Coffee shops are noisy, but I can filter that out. You see, it’s not noise that disturbs me when I’m writing. It’s calls on my attention.
I hate it when I’m writing in a coffee shop and someone comes over to chat. I can’t tell them to go away because that would be rude. The shame I’d feel would ruin my concentration anyway. Feeling annoyed at the interruption isn’t much better!
I write on a tablet. These days we’re all staring at our phones and tablets. I’m sure people who stop for a friendly chat assume I’m playing Candy Crush. I don’t say “excuse me, I’m writing” because it’s hardly in the same league as “don’t interrupt me, I’m finding the cure for cancer.” People matter, even when they pop up at inopportune moments.
On Facebook a lot of writers say they struggle with friendly interruptions from loved ones. Another popular writerly conversation topic is “what’s your favourite writing place?” My favourite spot is anyplace where I won’t be disturbed.
Writer Kristen Pope makes some good suggestions for 22 places to write when you’re tired of working at home. They include zoos, museums, ferries, and aquariums. Sadly in my town there’s nowhere so exciting!
When I was living in the countryside I couldn’t have gone out to write in either a coffee shop or a zoo. There weren’t any nearby and my parents would’ve worried about me sitting alone in a public place.
Fortunately, my family didn’t interrupt me when I was writing. I really feel for teens who don’t have that luxury.