Fivers for Writing Outside the Home

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.

Then drink.

And write.

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…

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

[Guest Post] Fivers for Drinking Whilst Writing by Todd Skaggs

Let’s get back into the swing of things. And by that, I mean, I’m gonna let someone else do the heavy lifting this week.

Let’s welcome Todd back to blog where he gives you five reasons to DRINK while you’re writing. Catch up with Todd on his newly minted Facebook page or at his blog, Cooking for One.

I suggest you do both.


Once again Mr. Brown has given me the reins to his fine blog. I’ll try not to mess it up too badly.

First things first, I have to mention that every time I see ‘fiver’ I think of Fiver from Richard Adams’ Watership Down. R.I.P Mr. Adams.

Secondly, I will admit that contrary to the spirit of this Fiver’s topic, I am actually not drinking.

Hold up.

Ah. Jameson and Ginger.  Problem solved.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, drinking and writing.  If you are not one that imbibes, then this may not really apply to you at all. And that’s fine. If not alcohol, there is probably some other substance or meditative practice that may accomplish the same thing. But for the constructs of this piece, we’ll go with fermented grains, if you please.

Before I get started, I’d like to say that I do not condone unsafe drinking. If you are going to drink and write, you should do so in a somewhat controlled or safe environment or at the very least have a spotter and an Uber account.  And you should really only get hammered on the first draft. Or is it draught? Either way, the first one’s for you anyway.

Now…on to the Fivers!

  1. Lowered Inhibitions. I had a French professor in college that told us to have at least one drink before we had our oral exams. She said that the alcohol would “loosen us up a bit.”  Basically, alcohol gets us to drop some of the filters we might normally have and lets us get out of our own way.  When you get out of your own way, cool shit happens. Don’t overthink the storyline. Just write.
  2. Reduced Tendency to Edit In Place. Part of what we (or some of us) do as writers is edit as we write. That word doesn’t work. That paragraph doesn’t make sense, so we chuck the whole thing. Along with the lowered inhibitions and lowered tendency to overthink is the fact that we aren’t being as super critical of ourselves as we’re writing. The end result is that you will probably have more to edit when you’re sober, but hey, that’s sober you’s problem.  And you might just find a gem that you would have tossed out otherwise.
  3. Improves Typing. Now, I’m going to be honest, this one is really hit or miss. I would not recommend getting stumble around, slurry, Otis the town drunk hammered. But, if you can touch type, you are golden. If you’re going to make a habit out of drinking and writing, I would STRONGLY encourage you to learn to touch type. Ain’t nobody got time to be a hunt’n’pecker when you’re buzzed and have words to get out.  Learn to touch type. That way if you DO have one too many, Mr. Hemmingway, you can at least still type with your eyes closed (helps with the spins).
  4. Introduces New Avenues to Stories. It really goes back to breaking your normal mode. Depending on your adult beverage of choice, your story can take on a life of it’s own. Absinthe tends to help me step outside of myself and take the story someplace new. Someplace strangely normal, but nice. Whiskey tends to make me warm and drive the stories in that direction. As much as where you write affects a story, so too does your drink. Stay thirsty my–oh? What’s that? Trademark infringement? Nope. We’re good. Cheers, mates!
  5. Improves Conversation. I used to live within walking distance to a local watering hole. It was a hole in the wall, but it was my hole in the wall. I had a spot that was mine to sit in. It was very much like a fucked up version of Cheers. But in a good way. On occasion I would take my iPad with keyboard or journal and spend a good 4 or 7 hours on a Friday or Saturday night drinking, shooting the shit with Chris and Kasey, the bartenders, and, of course, writing.  I would often field the questions of, “Oh, what are you writing?” or “Can I read something you wrote?”   OK. This one is rubbish. If anything, in addition to the questions I just mentioned from writing in a public place, at home the exchange might be more like, “Dad, why is mommy crying over an empty bottle of wine?” “Shh sweetie, she’s fine. She’s writing, nothing to worry about.”  Either way, I generally don’t want to talk to people while I’m in the throes of bleeding for the muse, drunk or sober. Your mileage may vary on that one, though.

With drink or without, the point of being a writer is to write. So, if it takes a glass or three of liquid courage for you to be able to face your muse, then by all means, drink up!

Cheers!