Experiencing Writing Outside

I’m doing this because of my first writer’s guild meeting. A friend invited me because she knew that I did NaNoWriMo every year. She encouraged me and cheered on my word count updates. She’s a fantastic cheerleader, and since she’s a writer, too, I get to do the same for her.

I felt outclassed by every single person there. You see, they’ve all been published in one form or another for their creative endeavors. They could commiserate with one another over rejection letters and slumps in online sales. I just smiled knowingly (I hoped) and let the conversations wash over me. I tried to fit in, but there’s only so much that a novice writer like me could do to contribute to the discussion.

My friend, the president of this lovely group of people, asked that we all go around the room and describe our favorite place to write. What do you need? What are your rituals? This was a fairly diverse group of people, so some typed exclusively in silence while others had soft classical music in the background with their legal pads and coffee. Then they got to me. “Wherever I have headphones, I’m good. My ideal writing time is between midnight and 4 a.m. I listen to a bit of everything. You can see my YouTube playlist if you want,” I answered.

Silence.

Now, I know that I’m one of the youngest people in the group, though I’m in my thirties. But really? Most of them were shocked that I could listen to music with words. I decided not to tell them that I sometimes sing along. It might have been too shocking. Most of them said that they needed near silence, and one or two of them would reserve rooms in the city library to ensure this solitude. “Oh, you should try it. It’s the best way to get completely engrossed in your world. There are no distractions that way…” And on and on and on.

I will not knock their habit! They’re published! Everyone has their different workspace, after all, and they feed their creativity however is needed. They have more experience than me in spades. So, I’m trying it out. However, I live in a tiny town that is 40 minutes away from a library with rooms that I can reserve. It took me 45 minutes to get to that meeting. Plus, I’m a mother. Distractions are impossible to avoid in my life. This is why I need music to escape my world.

My answer to this is writing outside. True to my creative habit, it’s past midnight. And in my small town, I can hear cars on the highway that’s a mile from my home. Every 30 minutes or so a train goes by at high speed. My dog is pacing out on my deck while I type because she has no idea what on earth I’m doing. I never notice these things in my daily life. It’s simply part of my background noise.

So, do I feel more creative? Well, there’s something special in the air. Since my current WIP takes place largely outdoors, there’s something inspiring in that. I’m not listening to music because that would kind of void the experiment. I hear a couple birds, which makes no sense because it’s still about five hours to sunrise. Whatever.

Do you know what I do feel? Cold. It’s April, and I’m in the Midwest. I’m outside in the middle of the night. It’s cold out here.

There is definitely something special about this, and I think I will try it again. It’s outside of my routine, and that’s worth exploring. The world feels really lonely, but not in a bad way. It makes me think of Aslan singing Narnia into existence, as long as I can ignore the sounds of my dog now digging into a trashcan and the bartender dumping bottles into the dumpster of the local dive.

Now that my husband has come to the back door looking at me like I’m completely nuts (he knew this before he married me), I think I will call tonight’s experiment quits. After all, my fingers are getting numb. And there’s a train coming. I can’t hear Aslan over the horn.