This blog introduces you to my special brand of BIKE. I show you how to find your Best self, access your Inner strength, tune in to your Killer instincts, and use your Expressive voice. It's inspiring, spiritual, quirky, and it's all in your head. It's about ATTITUDE, not exercise, though that might be a side benefit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Theme Day: My five favorite places to write

Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor.
It's a gift to the world and every being in it.
Don't cheat us of your contribution.
Give us what you've got. 
          ~Steven Pressfield in The War of Art
Today, the Blogathon focuses on another theme day, discussing our five favorite places to write. Luckily for me, Rebecca Albrecht shot this photo above of me on our recent Grand Canyon trip doing what I love to do best -- write -- and so I can at least illustrate this post...I don't usually take pictures of myself while I'm writing, and I generally do it in only one place. So we'll start there:

I enjoy writing at my desk. I'm most comfortable there. I like the sound of typing on the keyboard. It makes me feel so productive. I'm near my phone and files, so I can easily conduct interviews or follow up with sources on questions I may have, and I see the books on my shelves that provide inspiration. Magazines scattered or stacked on top of the desk provide good karma for potential sales. The view from my window allows me to see the restaurant on top of the hill or my neighbors as they cruise on by in car and on feet, and I can daydream at my desk. It's where the bulk of my work happens, so I'm used to it. The work flows easily here.

Above, you can see me pictured sitting down on a Paco Pad. I'm there reading and taking notes for future essays I might want to write about after I return from my trip to the Grand Canyon. I did that in lieu of a hike that morning. I loved every minute of it. Being and writing in nature gives me the chance to step out of my comfort zone (my office). It allows thoughts to flow with more abandon. For me, writing outdoors, away from the desk, without technology around, is an exercise in free writing. Writing in nature allows me to brainstorm with myself. But I have to do it without the laptop. This is the place where I use the old-fashioned pen and paper. A whole different thought-process emerges, and I find I need that every now and then. And it works. I've been working on three essays since returning from this trip.

I don't do this often, but I'm a fan and enjoy writing in a group setting. This could be in a classroom situation, at a coffee shop, at the library. It's another way to get creative and brainstorm. For the writer used to working alone at home, writing with other friends who write can pay off in the form of better ideas. It's about connection. We need it. What we take away will transfer onto the page later.

Again, no laptop here, but I do love writing in my journals and notebooks on the couch in the front of the television, whether it's on or off. This is where I do most of my long-term planning. It's not anything formal. It's just getting words on paper, thoughts on paper, ideas on paper. Later, they'll become more concrete. This is a practice I've carried on for decades, and whatever goes inside those journals eventually turns into an idea I sell. It's always been that way.
This is somewhat like writing with friends who write, except when you attend a formal retreat, you'll more likely be working with strangers, or writers you don't know. I like the challenge of working with people I don't know, learning from them, getting to know them. And I like the formality of the classroom setting or the informality of writing outdoors or the idea of writing in an unfamiliar place. I think it's good exercise for the mind to shake things up in this way as often as you can.

Do you know where you do your best work?


Alexandra said...

Interesting idea to write with friends. This is not something I have ever done or even considered doing, but hey, why not?

Julia Munroe Martin said...

Very very cool! I LOVE the photo of you at the Grand Canyon. I'm so envious! We lived in the southwest for years and never made it to either the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone! And to write in such a place -- very exciting!

BIKE LADY said...

I had written elsewhere that I don't write in public places, like coffee shops, much, because of the distractions. And then I'm reminded that I wrote rigorously at the writer's workshop, both in the classroom and the lab. Not exactly a public setting, but it makes me aware of how flexible writers can really be when we set our mind to it. Maybe I should spend more time writing in coffee shops and see where that takes me, distraction or not.

Anjuli said...

I love how you are able to write ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE! so great- and loved the picture!! I'm not sure I'd be able to write in a group- coz I normally get distracted and would end up talking instead :) ha ha!

BIKE LADY said...

Anjuli, you'd be able to write in a group setting if you were just taking notes or you were all writing about the same thing. Or were given a prompt, like you would get at a workshop. It's not as difficult as it seems, and I am easily distracted as well, at least in coffee shops. That would not be my top choice.

Bach said...

I've never been to a writer's retreat, and I definitely need writer friends to hang out with (my family and I just moved to MD from CO). Community: truly one of the best take-aways from Blogathon.

Jen @ My Morning Chocolate said...

Thanks for reminding me how much fun it is to write in nature. I went on a surfing trip to Costa Rica a few years ago and spent every morning writing in my journal, looking up every now and then when I heard a monkey rustling in the trees. It was a lovely experience.

I've never been on a writing retreat, but I'd love to set that as a goal for next year.

BIKE LADY said...

You all make me realize how easy it could be to set up a writing retreat, and that I should consider doing that before year-end.

Michelle Rafter said...

Co-working spaces for writers, which are a more formal set up for writers to work together, are becoming popular all over the country, including here in Portland where there are several such facilities. I'm interested in seeing how it'd be to work at one of them, but like you, I don't do well with distractions. When I used to work in a newsroom I'd put a "Do Not Disturb" sign on top of my PC so people would know when I was on deadline and avoid my cubicle.

Michelle Rafter

BIKE LADY said...

We have community spaces like that here but nothing formal, and not widely used by writers I know. But I've seen them. Your comment, Michelle, reminds me of when I worked for a construction magazine and the computer was out in an open area where anyone could walk by and disturb you. I was the sole person on the editorial side and the only one who used that computer. I don't recall why it was out there, as I had my own office. It wasn't the best setup, that's for sure. Still, I managed to put out the weekly magazine. It is amazing what you can do for a paycheck.