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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today's lesson: Ideal Writing Conditions

I'm quite familiar with my druthers for making my writing environment right. I've spent a lot of time finding the right time, place and implements for it. (When we moved to this new neighborhood las November, I literally drove around for several days covering many miles to find the right coffee shop to plant my butt and write! - and I'm glad I did)

I do not enjoy writing at:

early morning or late at night

any other time is good with me

I like to write when:

I have just eaten or I am neither hungry nor full

I get a lot of writing done:

at home on the veranda

at my desk

at the library (I haven't done this in a long time, but I like to write here)

at my favorite coffee cafe

while on a motorcycle road at night at the end of a day's ride - good chronicling happens here

I write best:

Either after exercising or immediately after having had morning coffee and a good read in the New Yorker

I write best with one of my several Cross medium nib fountain pen with ink converter (for longer time between refills) filled with BLUE ink. I dislike writing with black ink as it seems too impersonal and utilitarian. It's interesting how distracting this is to me. Even in my many years as a fire chief, any ink pen at my desk or in the pocket of my uniform shirt would have blue ink.

I’m a bit surprised to find that I'm writing so well on my new netbook - it was a fear that I'd never be able to have the same flow or mental connection I do with pen and ink. I think that because I can take it to places where I like to write (see above), it seems more free. This is about to get even better for me, because I've just ordered a new Smartphone that will be a 3G wifi hotspot - internet connection wherever I go. This technology constantly blows my mind.

I write best:

In complete silence and solitude, but also do well at my favorite coffee cafĂ©. Definitely among strangers is best in any away from home setting – writing among friends or family is much of a distraction (love you all, but I gots to concentrate!)

I sometimes like to write with 50s bebop jazz: John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk or later stuff like Pat Metheny or Jeff Oster – something pleasing but not intrusive. Anything that has lyrics is too distracting – I will find myself trying to make sense of the story in the song. Even at that, I find that the tenor of my writing will be influenced by the drama or tension in a musical passage, so I try to avoid music if I can.

I can typically maintain a good writing session for 3-4 hours unless I’m not in a good mental space, but it also depends what I’m writing. Free writing, after 1/12 to 2 hours, I’m pretty spent. I have had times where I have written for 5 minutes and called it a day. I’ve also had times when I do that, but then end up free writing about why I’m unable to write.

When I write, I like to have:

A clean workspace, my netbook (for internet research), my Kindle (which has my Oxford American Dictionary and WordNet3 English Dictionary and Thesaurus loaded), coffee, iced tea or water – no snacks – too much of a distraction. But I know that these things aren’t completely necessary, because I’ve found myself someplace on a road trip in a small town in the middle of the Wyoming prairie and I can just about always find a small notebook and a funky ballpoint pen and still write for quite a while.

So whattaya think: am I in touch with the places, spaces, implements and environment that makes me a happy writer?

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