I spent a good portion of my allotted writing time today performing a neat bit of procrastination called ‘reading about writing,’ a trick that, done properly, can trigger virtuous feelings of productivity with little to no actual production required. Specifically, I was clicking through the more recent installments of The Rumpus’ online column, “Where I Write,” cadging information about where, and therefore how, other writers get themselves to ‘do the work.’ The column comes in all shapes and sizes and each is written by a guest columnist who, through their own chosen combination of forms (essay, canto, verse, illustration), muses on how where they write affects their efforts as a writer. I was posted up sideways on my couch, one leg tucked under the other, laptop perched awkwardly on a throw pillow in front of me, as I read about city benches, home offices, notebooks, note cards, sinks full of dishes, and various internal states of mind.
Each column confirmed in its own way what anyone who’s tried to make a regular practice of writing learns: writing will happen somewhere as long as you put in the effort. I didn’t get much active writing done on the couch this morning, but once I got outside for a run I found myself stopping every half-mile or so to tap a line into my phone. Later, in the shower, as ideas continued to rain down, I thought of a good friend who, in the homestretch of writing her first cookbook, realized she wrote better “in the back of my head.” “You know,” she said, “when I’m not pushing everything into the front of my brain, focusing on it too hard.” Because she was doing the work—the thinking, the planning, the preparation—her brain had material to play with once she relaxed her focus.
Some writers write at a desk, some on planes, some in notebooks, some on computer screens. My friend writes in the back of her head. I write while running or showering (or, more regularly, in crowded coffee shops, on my computer). And I ‘write’ while surfing around The Rumpus, reading about where other writers write. What about you? Where do you write?