7 Places Strangely Conducive to Writing

I’m not sure tranquility is always good for writers.

lake with bench
This is the lake near my house, and I don’t go there to write, because there are bugs.

The picture above is of Fall Mountain Lake, mere minutes from my house. It looks tranquil, and if you’re walking by, it is. You hear ducks quacking, breezes quietly fluffing tree branches, the distant splashes of a canoer or two with oars in the water, and that’s about it.

It’s a wonderfully soothing place to be, and when I go there, my mind is quieted, and emptied of the day’s thoughts and stresses. It’s so empty, in fact, that I can’t yoke it back to get any writing done when I’m there. I’d rather sit there and soak up the good weather and pretty scenery. And without fail, by the time I’m ready to focus, greenhead flies or brown wasps have become accustomed to my presence and have decided that I look like a fun thing to play with.

So I leave, never having written a thing. Writing by the lake is a waste of time.

We lead busy lives, and the blessed quiet of an afternoon by the lake, a quiet writer’s retreat or even just a room of one’s own can be an overwhelming invitation to take a nap. The quiet can be downright uncomfortable. Instead, try these places to get in a writing groove.

1. A car parking lot. Taking a few stolen minutes to write before I drive home from work, or just before I walk in, has produced some pretty great ideas and helps me learn to write in small increments when necessary.

2. On your front step, if you have one. Two advantages: It’s not very tranquil, and you’re just steps from your refrigerator at all times.

3. In the cafe of an actual bookstore. This is a fun opportunity for deliberately choosing to be a cliche-within-a-cliche, with some great people-watching thrown in as a bonus.

4. On the bus, subway or carpool. Hey, it’s time when you’re incapable of doing much else, and it’s anything but tranquil.

5. Somewhere in your house you wouldn’t normally write. This has started to happen with alarming frequency: I’m in my half-finished basement on the treadmill when an idea strikes and I sit on a gym mat and write it down. I’ve gotten entire blog posts done this way.

6. While waiting. If you’re stuck at the doctor’s office or DMV, the time is all yours to do whatever you want. Try an app like Evernote for writing while waiting.

7. At a coffee shop or restaurant. This one is a cliche because it works. The noise and busyness of a cafe can be inspiring, and you can’t be interrupted by other life commitments until you deliberately get up and leave.

Where are your favorite places to write? What’s the most unusual place you’ve gotten writing done?