I see the question asked frequently in a variety of writer chatrooms, social media groups and bulletin boards — where should I write?
Usually, the person asking is a writer. They either find themselves unable to work on their project at home, or are perhaps looking for some variety in their creative venue.
The question is one I ask myself quite often. Home is another confinement. Writing is, I believe, unlike most other creative pursuits in that where it is performed and under what circumstances affects the outcome.
The World According To Mamet
“My alma mater is the Chicago Public Library”– David Mamet
One of my favorite answers to “where should I write” comes from famed Chicago playwright and cultural critic, David Mamet (who actually graduated from Goddard College).
When asked by a room full of eager graduating students what he recommended they do about grad school, he advised them to save their money and instead find a bar. When prodded further, he described the bar as ideally a pool hall without a television or loud music where they can listen to how people talk.
How very brilliant. How very Mamet-esque. After all, the man wrote a book on the subject, Writing In Restaurants.
The idea is to find, if not quiet, the right noise. Writing in public would be different than writing in the safety of home if it wasn’t for the voices.
Where should I write? Find a place that’s beyond the noise of every day.
Give Me A List?
I’ve traipsed around the Portland area in my writer costume for a more than twenty years. Most of that time I am seeking solitude.
Here is a small list of the places that fit the “Mamet principle”.
1.) The Oregon City Public Library.
2.) The cafeteria in Powell’s Bookstore in downtown Portland.
3.) The student union at Clackamas Community College.
4.) The tree house bar at the Woodstock New Seasons.
5.) The Sterling Writer’s Room on the third floor of the downtown Multnomah County Library.
6.) In my car with a note pad on my knee — often with windshield wipers sweeping back and forth.
7.) The lobby of downtown office buildings.
8.) Gino’s in Sellwood.
9.) A little cafe in Hollywood, Petite Provence where they play classical.
These are only my haunts though and a short list of them at that. You likely don’t live in Portland, Oregon.
Where Should I Write?
Writing in public is an opportunity. The best place to write in public is as close as your next discovery.
Go to your library. Find that one cafe in town without noise. Dress in your finest writer clothes and hang out in a lobby somewhere.
They’ll think you’re a spy. Which you are, in a sense, right?
Circulate them. Move through a list. Find a different place for every single different mood, from fiery tiger days to your more watery moods.
Part of why we write in public is to feel ourselves circulating, as opposed to the sometimes idling feeling of your own safe home.
Risk discovery. Risk exposure.
Have a favorite writing spot already?
Share it in the comments below. I would love to know where you go. Perhaps I’ll see you there.
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