Finding a Place to Write

My husband and I own a home that is a bit too big for just the two of us. This allows me my own private office with my own private corner, complete with Ikea desk and laptop. I’ve adorned the area with cute photos of pets and college buddies. Pens, notepads, and various books all lay within arm’s reach.

And this, as it turns out, is a terrible place to write.

Recent school budgeting issues have made me a part time teacher, and I now instruct three classes rather than the standard five. This was not a situation I chose, but when it was thrust upon me I decided to make the most of it.

“No problem,” I told myself. “I’ll have more time to write. With all the extra hours, just think of all the writing I’ll be able to do.”

Even with all the grading, lesson planning, and faculty meetings that come along with part time teaching, there are usually several days a week where I find myself out of work by noon. My husband doesn’t come home until after five and we don’t yet have any children, so I have ample writing time on days like this.

And yet, I am constantly shocked and appalled by the amount of writing that doesn’t get done.

It seems that when I walk through my front door each day, my mood changes. As I toss aside my work materials, I suddenly think about all the floors that need to be swept, the laundry that needs to be washed, the episodes of Law and Order languishing away on the DVR. “No problem,” I think to myself. “I’ll do all these other things now, and I’ll do my writing later tonight, when we’re finished with dinner.”

A few hours later, I put the dishes away and slog off to bed, too tired to even think about the arduous task of typing words on a page.

“No problem,” I tell myself, as I get into bed. “Tomorrow, I’ll make sure to get home by twelve thirty. And I’ll do all my writing then.”

I say that to myself almost every night. Why, after almost two long years, I continue to believe something that’s so constantly proven false, is beyond me.

One day, when I finished teaching by noon, I resisted the desperate urge to run home; instead, I parked myself at one of the faculty lounge computers and began plugging away at a blog entry. Ninety minutes later I had all but completed my post for that week, and I could now travel home knowing that my writing for that day would not be hanging over my head.

Writing at work has proven such a simple solution that I’m disappointed in myself for not seeing it sooner. In the office, there are no household chores to do, no television shows calling my name. Because my duties at work are done for the day, I can write with very few distractions, and I accomplish my writing goals in half the time I would have spent at home. What a difference a place makes!

If you are having trouble getting your writing done, consider changing your location. Stay at work an hour later each day, or go in an hour early. If this is not an option, check out your public library or local coffeeshop. If you don’t have the freedom to leave your house whenever you choose, get creative. The office you set up in the bedroom may have too many distractions, but you can still try working in the kitchen, the bathroom, or even the backyard.

Your writing place may be the very last location you try. And it may surprise you.

But don’t give up until you’ve found it.

Writer and educator Sara Goas is a graduate of Lycoming College, and she specializes in creating content for the web. Her site has more examples of her work.


3 thoughts on “Finding a Place to Write

  1. I, too, have a nice, comfortable office at home and never use it. I write at my neighbourhood Starbucks — when I can get a seat, because it seems to have become a favourite spot for the self employed, students and even other writers to work. Everyone in there has a laptop (Apples, actually). Where’s a social anthropologist when you need one?

    And for some inexplicable reason when I do write at home I prefer my dining room table. Why I don’t know. Same distractions there as in my office.

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