Friday, August 13th, 2010

Writing Prompt – A New Place

A New Place Art Exhibit PosterLast night I left the house to get some writing done.

That’s not my usual M.O.

I have a nice roomy office with a ceiling fan, a comfortable chair and wi-fi. Not only that, I’m only a trip down the staircase to the refrigerator, coffee pot or microwave. On really good days, the Husband of Awesome™ will skim silently up the steps into my room and deposit a martini by my right elbow.

What’s not to love?

I can think of three things right away:

  1. Physical Distractions – It doesn’t matter how often I straighten up the desk, there’s always a hundred things on it to take me away from the task at hand: my prized paper clip collection, photos, desk toys, a new pen, etc. I’ll take a moment to think about something in the manuscript and all of a sudden I’m carried away by something shiny in the vicinity. (Or by a new pen.)
  2. Baggage – I’m at home, right? It won’t take but a moment to put in a load of laundry, inventory the refrigerator for my next grocery trip, sew a button on a shirt, empty the dishwasher. Being at home means being bombarded with the message of a hundred things that “need doing right now.” It’s tough to produce against that kind of pressure. (And hard to ignore it.)
  3. People/Pets – This only counts if you have someone living with you, of course. Even if they’re not invading your space while you’re writing, it may be difficult to block them from your mind. If your house is small enough, you may not be able to dismiss their physical presence. For me, it’s usually the mental clutter that gets to me. I start that inner dialogue with myself: Have I ignored my spouse for too long? Have I fed the dog?

So yesterday’s trip out to do some writing was ideal.

I found a coffee shop I’d never patronized before and set to work. My space was limited, as were the desk toys, and after a few moments, the homogenous decor of the establishment proved easily ignorable. I got a lot of work done. So much so, that I think I’ll be getting out a couple times a month for writing.

Here’s your prompt: This week’s prompt is two-fold. Pick and choose, or do both. Either way, begin by visiting a place you’ve never been to. If you can, go somewhere you’ve heard very little (or nothing!) about. (The reason for this will become clear in a moment.) One more thing: although I chose a coffee shop, you could you choose any kind of location which offers an opportunity to write: a mountain vista, a park bench, a national monument, a graveyard.

  1. Now that you’re here, write. Write about whatever you want. See if you can be more productive here than in your usual haunt. If you are, examine what’s working for you. Can you take that home with you? If you’re not, find out what’s not working. Could that — or something related — be affecting you at home, too? Create a list of changes you can incorporate at home to make the atmosphere more conducive to writing.
  2. For those of you thinking, “that’s not a prompt,” this one’s for you: take in these new surroundings. You should have no preconceived notions of the area: after all, you’ve never been here before, and I hope you’ve not heard many specific details about it. Do you love it or hate it? What resonates with you? What rubs you wrong? Write a story using this location and incorporate the details of what you’ve examined.

*Today’s photo comes from the Kemistry Gallery Web site, the Anthony Burrill “In a New Place” exhibit.

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