I’ve spent a lot of time with writers lately. Last weekend, I attended and presented at a Shreveport, Louisiana conference sponsored by the NOLA STARs, a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I had a great time, met some new friends, reconnected with a few I hadn’t seen in a while. What a warm and welcoming group they are!
Yesterday, I attended the monthly meeting in Little Rock of the local RWA chapter, Diamond State Romance Authors. Local author Shayla Kersten led an interesting discussion on self-editing, including reminders we can all use of how to tighten and punch up our writing. Afterward, several of us went out for lunch and more talk about writing. To be honest, I considered not going to the meeting. I settle so comfortably into my rut of staying at home to write and putter that I have to make myself get out and about at times. I’m so glad I went yesterday! I had a lovely time, met a couple of local authors I can already tell are going to become friends, and had the chance to swap writing stories, something I always enjoy.
I’ve mentioned before that I am always fascinated by discussion of how different people create. The ambiance they require — music or coffee shop chatter or total silence. The plotting process — detailed synopses or seat-of-the-pants storytelling? Starting with character sketches or conflict ideas? Linear progression or random scenes later organized into a cohesive story? (Yes, I know someone who writes that way).
If you’ve read this blog, you probably know by now that I write on a laptop in my den — rarely in the office I built for that purpose — listening to music through headphones and gazing out the patio door that is my window to the outside world. I still don’t quite understand why I have so much trouble writing in my nice office — perhaps the feng shei is off or there’s something too restrictive and business-like about the idea of working at a desk surrounded by files and office equipment.
We all hear stories about J. K. Rowling writing parts of her early Harry Potter books on napkins in coffee shops, and I have several writer friends who write in coffee shops and libraries. Others enjoy going on writing retreats with other writers, spending an entire day or weekend writing with brainstorming breaks. I find it difficult to write anywhere but home. Maybe it’s because I leave my house so rarely that I go into sensory overload when I do. The sights and sounds and smells of home are so familiar that they barely penetrate my consciousness as I immerse myself in my story. But out there … so much to see, so many people to study, so many conversations all but inviting me to eavesdrop, so many sounds and scents to investigate. Coffee shops come with the temptations of delicious and calorie-laden drinks and treats, while libraries are filled with intriguing books and magazines to peruse.
I’ve been told by another writer friend that I have the attention span of a gnat, and trying to write out in public certainly proves that to be true! I get lots of story ideas when I’m out and about, but it’s at home in my den where I commit them to the pages.
Where do you feel most creative? In your home, a studio, a coffee shop? Wherever it is, I hope you find time in the coming week to let your imagination run free.
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