When I decided to give up my full-time job to try my hand at freelancing and writing novels, I envisioned leisurely days spent at coffeehouses, where I’d park myself with my laptop while I sipped lattes and cappuccinos and penned works of genius. I’d become buddies with the baristas, who would shout to me over the hiss of the milk frother as they made another caramel macchiato.
“Hey, Dane — how’s the book coming today?” they’d ask, and I’d shout back, “Another three chapters in the can!”
For the record, this has never happened. I have, on occasion, written from a coffee shop or bakery, but not with any regularity, and I’m definitely not on a first-name basis with any of the baristas. I have also never written three full chapters in one day. Ever.
What I discovered, fairly early, is that I write best from home. I know: zzzzzzz. But there are two very important reasons for this.
(1) Getting to a coffee shop or a library or some other such location requires showering and putting on clothes that aren’t sweatpants, and honestly? Most days I can’t be bothered. I just want to eat my breakfast and dive into writing right away without worrying about my appearance or personal hygiene.
(Mom, if you’re reading this, don’t worry: I do shower and dress is real clothes eventually. Like, 6pm at the latest.)
This is basically what I’ve become:
It ain’t pretty, but it gets the job done.
(2) I am, shall we say, a messy writer. After working in newsrooms for years, I don’t need silence in order to write, but I do need surface area. I like being able to spread all of my notes and drafts across a wide surface for easy reference. That way, everything I need is at my fingertips. You can’t do that at most coffeehouses — at least not without taking up valuable real estate that could go to another paying customer.
So I write from home. Until recently, that meant writing on the couch or at the dining room table. That was fine for a while — I wrote my entire first book rotating between the two (with the occasional day at Starbucks or Le Pain Quotidien). But my husband also works from home, and we increasingly found ourselves sitting three feet from each other, one of us typing too loudly, the other one chewing gum even louder, and neither of us getting very much done.
For a host of other reasons, we recently upgraded to a house, where I now — squee! — have my own office, replete with a desk, pencil holder, and office chair on wheels.
See the mess? I actually consider this an organized state. Pile on left: book #1. Second pile on left: book #2. Notepad and pen: notes for latest freelance article. Et cetera. There is a method to my madness, even if the method makes sense only to me.
What about you? Do you spread out when you work, or do you keep things neat and tidy? Do you work better from home or at the office (or coffee shop)?