I didn’t study writing in college and have never attended writing workshops. The only writing classes I ever attended were “Creative Writing 101,” and “Advance Journalism,” during summer school in Harvard. At that time I was already a feature writer and my articles were being published by a foreign magazine.
I became a journalist by chance: When I was working as a travel photographer, the person assigned to write an article that had to be published immediately couldn’t make it, so I conducted the interview, took the pictures, wrote the article and sent it to our main office. I received a call from our publisher shortly before publication date and he said the article was written well. Thus began my writing career.
In 2010, I decided to revive my writing life after a ten-year hiatus, and even though I continued to journal, I had no confidence at all as far as writing was concerned. I began reading up on how to improve my writing. Up until then, the books on writing that I had read were those concerning feature writing and journalism. Since I wanted to explore creative writing, I gobbled up book after book on the subject. One of the most important things that the authors advocated was a regular writing schedule – daily and at the same time, and if possible, at the same place. That certainly was news to me.
When I was a journalist, I carried a notebook with me everywhere I went and wrote whenever I could, wherever I could. In restaurants, bus stations, airports – everywhere.
But since I wanted to learn how to be a good writer, I tried to follow the advice to set up a regular writing schedule and a regular writing place or space. I tried really hard, but it just didn’t happen.
There’s a perfectly logical explanation for the need to write daily, at the same time and place. But knowing this didn’t help, and I don’t know if it was just the years spent on the road without any writing regimen, or if it was my personality.
I found an ally in Eric Maisel, Ph.D. In his book “A Writer’s Space, Make Room to Dream, to Work, to Write,” the author extolled the virtues of having a regular writing space. But he also enjoined his readers to go out of their comfort zone.
“It is a bad trick of the mind to announce to yourself that you can only write in a certain place, in certain circumstances, in a certain kind of weather, at a certain time of the day, after having a certain kind of meal, with a certain sort of pen. It is fine to have preferences but important to commit to writing anywhere. That way you can grab ideas when you’re away from home; you can take a little writing trip when you feel dull at your desk; you can choose among you excellent haunts and decide which feels most congenial at the moment. By all means maintain a primary writing place; then add alternatives.”
My computer is my primary writing place. Otherwise, the world is my writing place and I write when I can and where I can. It’s a relief to know that it’s all just fine.