We want to find the right place to write. A dedicated space to our writing can seem like honoring our commitment to our writing.
I have a writing studio and am grateful to have it.
In April 2018 my father was diagnosed with a grade-4 glioblastoma. Surgeons removed a lemon-sized tumor from his brain. I rearranged my schedule to fly out to California once a month to help with oncology treatment and running errands.
He had experienced several seizures before and after his surgery, causing the State of Florida to suspend his license. I became experienced at driving Northern California roads and highways.
For at least one week out of the month I visited uncommon places in which I needed to write. The first few months I visited my father I couldn’t write. Of course his condition made it impossible to concentrate; but I also wasn’t in my routine or my studio. But despite my father’s cancer and being out of my routine, the not writing left me feeling very dissatisfied.
I fretted because I wasn’t in my studio, and when I sat down and had a hard conversation with myself, I admitted that even when I was home, the time before I left for a visit, and the time I needed to recover after I returned from a visit, also kept me out of the studio.
Yet I wanted and needed to write.
Vaclev Havel came to my rescue. Years ago I read the Vaclev Havel, former playwrite and the first President of the newly liberated Czech Republic, taught himself to write in a room of full of men while he was imprisoned for pro-democracy actions.
Every day he wrote with at least six men in a room, all of whom were walking around, shouting, doing whatever political prisons and criminals do in a crowded room.
To overcome the noise and the movement to write, Vaclev trained his mind. He created a place in his head to write and from which to write.
I decided to try that. By loosening my writing from a physical location and moving it to a mental one, I found it much easier to write anywhere, at almost any time.
I’m not as tough as Havel was and bought some noise-cancelling headphones if the noise gets to be too much for me.
My mindset now determines whether or not I will write. Yes, the setting I am in can affect the quality of my writing, but less so whether I will write or not. Recently I wrote on a plane, which is a first for me.
Untethering my writing from a physical location has liberated me, allowing me to move quickly to my father, my family in other parts of the country and friends overseas. Ironically I write more the less I spend worrying about the right location. For me the worrying about a right location became a way to avoid writing.
Location less means writing more.