In a Room Other Than One’s Own

Calvin & Hobbes @Bill Watterson
Calvin & Hobbes ©Bill Watterson

I’ve gotten pretty comfy writing back here in Spare Oom.  I’ve got my PC for goofing off online research and music soundtracks.  I’ve got our old love seat back here, which I’ve been using for my longhand writing.  I keep the window slightly ajar and the blinds open to remind me there’s a world outside.  I’m just down the hall from the living room so if A needs me, she only needs to call out.

But what about writing elsewhere?

I’ve worked elsewhere in the apartment over the years.  I restarted the last chapters of The Process of Belief back when my computer was in the living room.  I’d sit next to A on the couch and work on the Bridgetown Trilogy revision while we had something going on the TV.  I’ve worked at the kitchen table while A and one of her friends watched a movie.  And recently I’ve done some longhand out there as well.

Writing elsewhere can definitely be a great exercise, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t want to miss out on deadlines, self-imposed or otherwise.

During our trip to Manhattan a short while ago, I managed a few pages during the flights, and I got a few more at the end of the day in our hotel room.  And over the years, I’ve written in all sorts of places.  There’s a passage in A Division of Souls that was written in a cheap hotel where I decided to stay rather than drive home during a snowstorm.  I’ve worked on the Bridgetown Trilogy revision in hotels in Portland, Cambridge, Seattle, and even Paris.  A number of scenes, notes, and brainstorming ideas for all three Bridgetown books were written during SF cons.  And I almost always get a good portion done during vacations.


It can definitely be done, if you’re willing to work.  That’s not to say that you should abstain from having fun during your vacations.  By all means, go out and see the world!  Do some people-watching.  Pick up on localisms, regional cultures, things otherwise mundane that would actually brighten up your characters.  Listen to how they speak, check out what music they listen to.  But at the same time, feel absolutely free to sit down at that sidewalk café, drink your coffee and eat your beignet, and think about nothing else but being in the moment and enjoying it.

We’ll be heading out to London in a few days, and I plan on getting a lot of writing done while we’re there.  I have notebooks at the ready, my camera for reference shots, a shopping list of books and cds to look for.  But this will also be a continuation of our previous trip there last fall for Worldcon.  That trip turned into a long bucket list of music-related places to visit (Abbey Road, Baker Street, Berwick Street, Savile Row, etc.), historic museums (Tate Modern, Victoria & Albert, Portrait Gallery, etc.), and points of interest (St Paul’s, Waterstone’s, Whitehall/Westminster).  This is going to be the Extended Remix, in which we’ll hit all those places again as well as those we missed the last time, this time at our leisure. [Yes, I just pronounced that as “lezh-err” instead of “lee-zhur” in my head.  I’m totally ready for this trip.]

Point being:  By all means, if you want to get some writing done while on vacation, even and especially if you don’t exactly need to, go nuts!  Go for it!  Write like the mad, crazed weirdo that you are!  It’s well worth it if you decide to make it enjoyable.  Don’t worry about perfection, just have fun with it!  Play with a subplot.  Come up with an outtake that you can share online with your blog followers.  Play around with character development.

Just be sure to balance it with just having fun in the real world!

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