How often do you take your work-in-progress to someplace new (e.g. to the library, a coffee shop, etc.). You can tell this question was probably written before the pandemic, right? Even before that, though, I’d been going out less and less. The current answer is “never”. Working from someplace other than the apartment was increasingly becoming a pain in the butt.
Take Your Work-In-Progress to Someplace New
Here’s the thing: I used to understand the appeal of working in a coffee shop or library. Change of scenery and all that. Wheeze some free wi-fi and a caffeinated beverage. There are romantic notions attached to it, along with a lot of cliches about writers that I simply can’t disabuse.
Not so much any more. It also means packing up my stuff, getting to the secondary location, and setting up again. Any creative boost I might get from different surroundings is offset but time spent moving. That doesn’t even account for money spent on coffee I could make at home, the extra spoons it takes, or other wild card conditions I can’t control.
There’s a reason most office jobs don’t operate out of public spaces. When it’s crunch time, the programmers at the software startup don’t grab their crap and head to Starbucks en masse. The law firm doesn’t head down to the main branch of the library, hoping to reserve a conference room, banker’s boxes full of documents in tow. No. They have a proper workspace.
I wanted to make a joke about how any working writer that thinks going to public spaces to work is productive is likely the kind of person who thinks David Mamet’s book Writing in Restaurants is a guide to writing in restaurants. When I went to Amazon to grab an affiliate link to the book (which is an excellent collection of essays, by the way) there is a one-star review that lambastes it for exactly that reason. Ugh.
The Merry Writer is a writer’s game on Twitter run by Ari Meghlen (@arimeghlen) and Rachel Poli (@RPoli3). Each day there’s a new question, and each month there’s a new theme. In these posts I expand upon the answers that I’ve posted on my Twitter.