Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The material and the dream can join

Writers tend to be very particular about the hows and wheres of their writing sessions. Entire books have been devoted to the subject, featuring 50-year-old desks, walls covered with post-it notes, and over-stuffed bookshelves.

Nowhere in one of these books will you find a tan-colored cubicle.

My preferred workspace consists of a table at Panera in Watertown, Mass. On this table are two things: (1) my MacBook and (2) a refillable cup of Mountain Dew. To my mind, I do my best writing here, with the Dew and the sunlight and the white noise of quick lunchtime conversation.

Alas, I spend 40 hours a week in the aforementioned cubicle. Inspiring it is not. But I have found ways to push through the pain of my spirit-killing, I mean, less-than-ideal, confines:
  • Procrastinate. Most writers, when sitting down to write, find ways to procrastinate. When you have a day job, however, you can use your own writing as a means of procrastination. In this way, writing almost becomes fun. Almost.
  • Decorate. Tack quotations and poems to your cube walls. Some may view this as pretentious and/or weird. Just tell them that, without these things, your muse might abandon you altogether. They’ll think this is totally normal.
  • Exploit. Write about your co-workers.
  • Blog. Blogging may not do what the Dew can do, but it’ll get the creative juices flowing. See here and here and here.
  • Research. Put all that non-work-related Web-surfing to good use and research magazines and journals, or places to submit your work. See “Procrastinate.”
  • Compete. If you’re at a loss for writing material, find a writing contest that dictates your subject.
  • Believe. Believe that if you persevere, one day you’ll be able to return to your rightful spot at Panera.


Alexandra said...

True that - I find myself writing while I'm at my job (and I'm a server!) Writing when you're "not supposed to be" really excites me, and yes I'll admit, that was a completely nerdy thing to say.

And, what kind of Panera do you go to that has Pepsi products? The one near me (in Chicago) definitely does not have that option.

Julie said...

Don't worry about sounding nerdy -- trust me, you're in good company. Though I am very impressed that you're able to write while serving. I would surely spill things.

I'm sorry to hear your Panera doesn't offer Pepsi products (Mountain Dew, especially)! I knew there was something magical about my Watertown Panera...

Katie said...

Haha - it's more like writing in the kitchen and while I'm waiting for people to finish eating. Maybe when I'm ready to leave my job I'll attempt to write while carrying a tray - that way if I spill it won't matter!