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Be Wherever You Are (And By “BE” I Mean “WRITE”)

The image of a writer working diligently at their desk is familiar and comforting. It’s where a writer belongs, alone in their study with all their little rituals to get going. The problem is, sometimes that doesn’t work. Sometimes that gets comfortable, or uncomfortable if, like me, your chair is an 8-year-old wooden thing designed for poker tables. Then you start thinking about lunch or did you pay your bills or should I glue this chair together again or just light it on fire when it gets cold this winter?

The best thing you can do as a writer is get away from your desk, and here are three reasons why:

1.) Your brain hates you.

We carry around journals and pens because our brains are just awful and never do what we want them to do when we want them to do it. It’s why Tolkien invented hobbits while he was grading papers. Grading papers can be pretty boring and his brain didn’t want to do it. I guarantee he probably had many moments when he wanted to write and all his brain could think about was whether or not he ought to be focusing on his professorial responsibilities. When you carry your journal, you’re ready for the moment your brain decides to actually work for you.

2.) Art does not happen in a void.

I once had a friend over for a painting night. She wanted to paint a tree and I noticed what she painted went straight up and down. Where we live, most trees don’t do that. She hadn’t spent much time with them. So we went outside. I took her to some of my favorite trees around the apartment complex and had her run her hands over the twisting, showed her how trees grow not like pillars but like dancers. If you want to recreate a tree, you don’t do it by sitting still and thinking about them. You have to go look at them.

3.) Your comfort zone is your enemy.

If you get too comfortable with your routine, with lighting a candle, sitting at a desk, and playing a round of solitaire before you open up your work-in-progress, you might train your brain to think that’s the only place writing happens. It shouldn’t be.

I’m a firm believer that writers will be better if they try acting. Why? Because it’s a different way to approach character and scene. Your writer brain will absorb everything and, when you get back to your work, you’ll see so many avenues you didn’t see before. Be ready to write when you’ve just been hiking, or just took the dog to the vet, or are sitting in a metal concert wondering how those guys do it to their poor throats. You’ll never describe a sunset better than when you’re staring at one. Train your brain to look at every instance of life as an opportunity to start writing, even if it’s inconvenient.

Your desk is where you go when you’ve carved out the time to write. Creativity doesn’t necessarily fit in that window. Be ready to write anywhere and everywhere. Your prose will shine all the brighter for it.

Author spotlight

C.M. McGuire

I've been telling stories for as long as I can remember. As a student, it was how I remembered my …

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