My last blog post asked you five questions about your approach to writing. As important as what, why, how, and when you write, is where. My own experience suggests that for at least some of us, the best spaces are betwixt and between office and home. As I travel extensively for work, my places reflect that, but I am sure if I worked from home I would need to find their equivalents. Here are my favourite five, in no particular order:
- The Train
I have an advantage living in Switzerland, where the trains are clean, efficient and quiet, but I learned this back in Toronto taking the subway (which is anything but a Swiss train!). As long as I have a seat, I have the perfect environment for right-brain writing: journaling, sketching, listing out theme ideas or composing short, concise speech copy. I can move quickly through a long list of items in this environment.
- The Airport Limo
On the rare occasion, when I’m a passenger in the back of a luxury town car for 30-60 minutes, especially in the early morning when the traffic is light, and I have given myself plenty of extra time, the peace has an uncanny effect on my thinking. From the moment I tell the driver which airline I’m flying, it takes about two seconds to plunge deep into thought, almost like going into a waking dream. This is the kind of writing where you write one sentence after 10 minutes of just thinking. Invariably, we are “suddenly” at the airport, and I feel great in knowing that I have accomplished an important piece of the puzzle on which I am working.
- The Shower
Like most clichés, it’s true! My big “eureka” moments are more likely to come in the shower than anywhere else. Like the Greek scientist Archimedes, the alleged coiner of the term “Eureka!”, 72% of us are inspired while in the water, according to Dr. Kauffman, psychologist and co-author of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. But this is no accident. I load my brain before the shower, lining up the specific problem I am trying to solve. Then, I turn my brain off and go about the routine of getting ready for work. There is something about the unconscious but primed mind that, like the CERN particle accelerator, makes an “accidental collision” certain to happen, eventually. By trusting that the key is NOT THINKING about the problem, the solution reveals itself out of nowhere.
- The Hotel
The first hour of the day when staying in a hotel, particularly in a different time zone, is for the hard-core productive laptop-based writing: presentations, proposals, business plans, workshop agendas, creative themes, or campaigns. I get up at 5:00 AM, crank up the in-room coffee, no matter how good or bad (from Nespresso to god-awful instant), and work until 6:00 or 6:30 before anyone on the planet knows I am awake. A writing task that seemed impossible the night before is now easily dashed off. When I am done, and I have texted my wife or started working on my email, I feel I have already accomplished a day’s work.
- The Airport Lounge
If I am early, and it is on the way back, and I need some to get some tough thinking or writing done, nothing beats a decent airport lounge (around the world the variability of lounge quality is massive, so you can’t count on this one). For some reason, the pressure of the gate time, combined with the anonymity and timelessness that comes with the airport experience, makes coming to conclusions relatively easy. The free drinks might help too! In any case, if I need to “close” something, the lounge is the place to do it.
Oddly, the place that many people like writing that does not work for me at all is on the plane itself, even when flying business class.
Where are you inspired to write? Are you more of an Archimedes or a business- class writer? I would love to hear from you!