A reply on one of my blog posts got me wondering, so I'm taking an informal poll. Do you go out of the house to write or lock yourself in your office?

I'm a hardcore inny. The very idea of writing in public is deeply disturbing to me. I want my desk, my things, my own little world where everything is the way I like it. When I was younger I was more flexible and would write whenever I had a spare moment, wherever I happened to be. Now I guess I'm more of a stick in the mud. I have my routine and it does not involve any other humans, either directly or peripherally.

Part of that has to do with my inability to block out noise. I don’t have TV and don’t understand people who run that evil thing 24/7 “for background noise” or “company.” As a result, I never built up that immunity to chatter than most modern people seem to have. I particularly can’t stand the sound of any human voices while I write, either real or recorded. I think it’s my obsession with words. I can’t help but hear them. If I see words, I have to read them and if I hear voices, I have to listen. I can’t block them out. When I hear music, I hear every word of the lyrics. Words just have this intense effect on me and if I’m making them up, I need to do it in a word-free vacuum.

That’s my excuse, anyway.

Of course, I also live in Los Angeles, land of pretentious hipsters who want to make sure everyone at the Starbucks can see that they’re working on a screenplay. I always suspected anyone who takes their laptop to a coffee shop of harboring exhibitionist tendencies. In fact, I used to think that was the mark of a wannabe. That those of us who actually do this for a living don’t need an audience.

But I’ve heard different from several other pro writers who don’t suck and don’t have a pretentious bone in their bodies. They tell me they really do need to get out of the house in order to write. They need to go somewhere outside their own mundane world or they need to get away from spouses and offspring. (I live alone so that’s not an issue for me.) I’ve even heard the more practical claim that a struggling writer too broke to afford air conditioning likes to go out and soak up the free cool during the summer.

So, how about you? Inny or outy?

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I write best at home. I can write elsewhere--on a computer or longhand--but when I'm out, I prefer to focus my attention on observing and absorbing.
When I lived in NYC, I wrote on the subways all the time. Can't do that while
driving though... Now I write at home, in a little basement office usually after my wife has gone to sleep..
Inny. I don't do well blocking out noise either. And there are so many random, unpredictable elements when you go out.

Mind you, around here, it's largely discussions over who shot the largest deer and grunting over beer. There is no Starbucks. Or Dairy Queen. Or McRaunchy's.

I wish there was a Tim Hortons, but I'm not driving to Airdrie to go to one only to be distracted.
I have a home office, but I have two young kids and I can't say no to them.

So, I have to write out. I've spent the last three years in Starbucks, and diners, and restaurants, and frankly, I'm growing tired of it.

That being said, I actually enjoy writing out, I think, because the process is so solitary, so isolating, that I like having people around... even if I'm wearing headphones and they are basically shadow movements for me.

It took me three years to get sick of writing out. I think I would get sick of writing in much faster.

I'm toying with the idea of renting an office somewhere. It might be the right combination.

As for LA... God, I miss THE OFFICE on 26th in Santa Monica. There is not a greater place for a writer to put pen to paper... or fingers to keyboard.
I'm (um, now that guttertalk's been introduced)... switch?

I have ridiculous tunnelvision concentration when I read or when I write/type. Whether nutritional facts on a pack of gum or an online article or a novel, and whether it's my own stuff or a memo for work or even an email -- I shut out folks completely.

If you've seen "Aliens" it's like when Bishop's studying the dissected facehugger in Medlab and one of the grunts waves a hand in front of his unseeing android face saying "Hello? Anyone home?" -Like that.

I live alone and have quiet neighbors so I'm blessed -- laptop, headphones on, iTunes. When I do write out it's specific "safehouses" and not just any old where like a Starbucks or the subway.

I have therapy twice a week and get work done in the waiting room for the 30-45 minutes I have -- headphones on, laptop literally on my lap. That's a newer and very great development. No one complains (I've asked) about the clacking keys. And the headphones in public isn't so much so I can't hear anyone, it's so everyone else knows not to talk to me.

Going somewhere to write though, is nice for me because when I get around I walk or take public transportation, and walkabouts make my brain work more than driving somewhere. And the places I write "publicly" have rituals now, so they are familar and safe.

I also get superstitious about places I've been where I've gotten lots done. I know that's also my being procrastinatory -- oh, I can't write here because I don't have my favorite desk/chair/pen/songs/room/city/state. I'm working through that and am glad my inny and outy locales are "lucky" so far.
I always carry a (hardbacked) notebook and I write anywhere I get a minute - in waiting rooms, on trains, in coffee shops, any room in the house or outside if it's a sunny day. Until NaNoWriMo last year, I pretty much always wrote longhand then edited as I tapped stuff into the comp, but that particular exercise made me write straight onto screen. I've generally got my little plug in drive with me, too, so I can plug into any comp given half a chance. (My preference is still longhand first, though. With a decent pen.)
Have you tried a PDA? I started using one when I realized I could use it the same way as a laptop for a fraction of the cost. I can write in the car, in a coffeeshop, a waiting room, wherever... what I like best about it is that I can still write "longhand" using the Grafiti function (so it's like writing longhand), but then simply send whole files back and forth between PDA and computer without having to retype anything.
I really must check them out! My husband bought me a contraption that supposedly allowed me to do that - you attach a 'clip' to a piece of paper, then write with a special pen - but it didn't create Word files and by the time I'd mucked about with the text and made it usable, I was about demented.

Thanks for the tip!
Inny, absolutely. I know people who write their novels in Starbucks, and I don't get it. I can't concentrate with anyone else around. When I had a day job that involved being available to supervisees and clients, in order to get anything done I had to close the door and post a sign: "My door is always figuratively open."
I can do both. In fact, I find that I have to do both. For me it's less about the location and more about what I need at a particular moment to focus. Sometimes I can sit in my office, den or the living room in and hunker down. Other times I need people and energy around me. As long as I can reduce the noise pollution I'm good.

And sometimes I even need that. Music to write to provided there are no lyrics, unless I'm just getting started then I need complete quiet.

As to the pretentiousness of LA, yeah, there is that. I don't have to deal too much with that because I'm not usually in a high hipster zone like Burbank, Silver Lake or Studio City. Never tried the Office, though I've heard amazing things about it. At least until they started charging $500.00 a month to be a member.

Basically I'm all over the place and I can do it anywhere. And unlike Tasha, I AM easy.
I generally stand in the middle of a rushing stream and balance my laptop on a slippery rock. This is only a problem during trout season.
It's gotta be a pretty tall rock, or are you a small, small man, Gischler?


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