I don’t think I can top last week’s Fiver from Todd, so I’m not even gonna try. I’ll put this one up here for you fine people to read and do what you will with it. Then you should go back and read Todd’s again.
Everyone knows that having a home office (or a spot inside your house/apartment/flat/whatever) is important. We spend the majority of our time at our homes (or offices, for those of you with corporate jobs), and therefore it’s important to break out. Here are five reasons why…
- Less Distraction. And by distraction, I mean the mundane things that you want to do or need to do, or in that rare instance, need and want to do. I’m talking laundry, dishes, cutting grass, video games, television, porn, sex with your significant other, kids, pets, picking zits, peeling dry skin. You know, those things that you do when you’re in the privacy of your house. These are the things you don’t do if you’re sitting in a café or coffee shop. I can’t help you with staying off the internet.
- Change of Scenery. My office, while I love it, gets boring after a bit. Staring at the same walls, the same books, just the same damn place. It feels like a rut and since painting the walls once a month isn’t feasible, getting out of the office is imperative. Yes, I could go upstairs and writing in my dining room, but that still subjects me to the usual “home” distractions (see above for a partial list…) and makes me that much more vulnerable to the “people” factor. The kids, the wife, the grand kids. Whoever happens to be around. But in the coffee shop, it’s different, right? You can sit in one spot this time, that spot the next time, and look at different paintings on the wall, or out a different window for a more interesting view. And the people. Always different (unless you go to my Panera, in which case you will smell Cologne Man almost every day), always unique, and always worth staring at, listening to, and sometimes, even, talking to.
- More Creative Happenings. Nurses talking, cologne-laden men in jogging suits, spousal fights (that aren’t your own!), kids running and screaming, spills, and even spells. These happenings, notated and stored away, are perfect fodder for adding a layer of realism to any scene you’re writing. Your characters meeting in a park? Drop in the squabbling couple sitting behind you. Are the characters in a hospital waiting room? How annoying would cloying cologne-man be if he plopped down right next to them? The beauty of people is they appear pretty much everywhere and they’re universal, and the people you observe while out writing can be put anywhere.
- Someone to wait on you. A café will make your food, clear your dishes, and sometimes refill your coffee. If you write in a restaurant, then you have wait staff definitely doing all that for you. All this extra attention to your needs lets you get to the business of writing, observing, and being damn productive. Otherwise, at home you’re stopping every so often to get up and get a new cup of coffee, or to grab a snack. Dawdling around the kitchen is a sure way to waste many minutes that could be spent writing. Remember: Tip your wait staff and tip them well.
- Fresh Air. Even if it’s just for three minutes walking to and from your house to your car and then the car to the place and all that reversed four hours later, we need to get outside. Us writers, we tend to stay inside way too much, and we need every little bit of exposure we get to the outside. I try to walk my dog as much as possible, for instance, but if you’ve seen me, you know that “as much as possible” is really “almost never.” But every time I walk to my car, I feel invigorated… the smell in the air, the bite of the wind, reminds me that I’m still alive and that I have things to say with my writing.
And there you have it, certainly not as fun as drinking whilst writing, but not too bad, either. So get on up, get on out, and find yourself a favorite place or three to park you ass one or two days a month that’s not inside your home office. You’ll be better for it in the long run.