Ditch The Desk
Ditch The Desk

After yesterday’s bout of writer’s block I got thinking today about how to get those words flowing. I realised one very inspiring aspect to writing can be the location.

Of course the first, obvious place is your desk. This will be your habitual place of working the grindstone. You will be in efficient, organised mode in this place. You’ll most likely have your ‘space’ set up for work… Computer, printer, files, pens, coaster for your coffee, maybe some motivational notes pinned in front of you.

But writing isn’t something that can be forced. It’s a little like telling a flower to hurry up and open. It takes as long as it takes, and requires sun, water and nutrients in order to do its thing.

Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl

It’s the same with writing. It requires inspiration in any form; Whether it be corporate copy or a children’s book. Sometimes the everyday predictability of a desk just doesn’t cut it. If it aint flowing then one very effective thing you can do to shift your energy and move that creative block is change the scene.

Roald Dahl had a hut in his garden that he wrote in. No one was allowed in while he was writing. He would shut himself away for a couple of days with just a sleeping bag to keep him warm, very little food and go into a manic bout of writing.


Here are four of my favourite inspirational writing locations: 

ONE: The Cafe
I love going to a favourite cafe, ordering an aromatic brew and sitting down in a quiet corner with my Mac and writing. I love being able to watch the world go by, from a fly on the wall perspective. Isn’t it great sometimes just to observe rather than to participate. And great for sharpening your writing skills… You get to observe the nuances of human interaction, hear snippets of conversation, perhaps even engage in a little conversation with the barista or proprietor. Today for example I was sitting in a cooking shop that was also a cafe and I overheard the proprietress advising that rice flour is a delicious alternative to wheat flour for cooking fish. Great tip that I’ll use next time I cook fish, and a little morsel to weave into this post.

But even if all you are doing is concentrating 100% on the page or screen in front of you and totally blocking out the external world, the process of sitting in a laid back cafe sipping a great coffee seems make the words percolate out like smooth, rich arabica.

TWO: The Airport
The obvious stimulus of an airport comes from all those people coming and going from global destinations. That in itself is inspiring. There is so much wonderful people-watching to be done at an airport. Again you have the opportunity to observe the intricacies of conversation, interaction and communication; In a variety of languages too usually… And communication isn’t just verbal. Different cultures have different body language, gesticulations and facial expressions that go along with their words. It’s fascinating.

And there is always the wondering where someone has come from and where they’re going. There is of course the option to do some vox pop with willing candidates, but it can be much more fun to imagine their story. An airport is like a lush rainforest, full of many varieties of inspiration for us writers.

Underneath and over the top, I find the not so obvious inspiration is in simply being there. That feeling of anticipation and possibility. Even if I’m just there dropping a friend off and not actually going anywhere myself, I still get that same feeling of excitement. Where to now? …And you can literally write yourself to anywhere.

THREE: The Beach
I am blessed to live near the ocean. It’s as though the very breeze that blows from the wide blue waters is inspiration itself. When my feet hit the sand and my toes touch the water I feel alive.

I’m not game to take my Mac down to the beach and risk grains of sand between the keys, but I do love driving to a car park with a front and centre view of the ocean and sitting in my car, chair all the way back, Mac on my lap and writing with the sound, smell and view of the ocean. It’s such a free, wild feeling. And brings it’s own form of inspiration. The ocean is very grounding and cleansing so it tends to improve my focus as well as stoking my creative embers.

Writing in bed
Writing in bed

FOUR: The Bed
What can be better than cozying up in bed, in your pjs and writing. So relaxing, so enjoyable. When writing starts feeling like a chore you need to change something. Regarding it as a pleasure is a great reframe. And combining it with chill out pj-time is perfect.

Stress is extremely counter-productive. It shuts down your creative arteries, blocks your inspirational channels and turns your grey matter into clag. All the same, it’s pretty useless to tell you not to stress. It doesn’t work for me. I know when I’m stressed, but knowing doesn’t necessarily change it one iota. But changing something does have an effect. Of course exercise is a good stress reliever, but it’s damn near impossible to write whilst running, cycling, swimming – whatever be your thing.

But have a hot shower, get into your pjs, jump into bed and then see how well your stress holds up to that!

I find it extremely inspiring personally, for a range of writing, from frivolous personal ditties to complex corporate writing for clients. It’s scary how much thought capacity stress chews up. If you can allay that, you free up a whole lot more disk space in that microprocessor between your ears.

So, next time you’re feeling stuck for words, try changing your location. Pack up your writing tools and head to your favourite cafe, closest airport, nearest beach (or similar area of natural beauty)… or just jump in your pjs and hit the sack. Then see how the words flow out of you!

…Do you have a favourite Ditch The Desk writing location?

This is Day Fifteen of a 30 day writing challenge
inspired by Matt Cutts on TED Talks


2 thoughts on “Ditch the Desk

  1. Half way there! I hear you about finding the best environment to write in. I actually tried a lot of places and finally realized for myself it was the time of day that I was writing. When I write in the morning I could be anywhere! Thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ll need to try out some of these places to write soon. This past week I’ve been visiting with family and had plenty to write about… now that they are gone I feel writers block settling in!

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