Have You Written in any Odd Places Lately?

Where do you write? Office? Dining room table? Couch? Coffeehouse?

How about when you’re pinched for time?

Today’s blog comes to you from the waiting room at the Maplewood Toyota dealership in Minnesota. I’m working while I wait for an oil change and tire rotation. Today was the only day during which I had a chunk of time to get car maintenance done before my father-in-law visits on the weekend. And it’s blog Wednesday, so here we are.

The first few times I dared to scribble (or type) in public, I felt terribly self-conscious, as if I had no business masquerading as a writer. Not anymore. Who’s bored enough to watch me write, anyway? No one cares that I’m sitting here with a pen and notebook (standard first draft material – editing comes when I type this into my computer), especially when they have the option of looking at the television in the corner or the fish tank behind me. I don’t know what the dealership has done to this space, but the sounds are all muffled and blended together into a background hum that is perfect to work by.

Lately, I’ve written in some odd places. A few weeks ago, I sat at a picnic table in a Roseville park because the idea I had while out running errands wouldn’t wait. I’ve scribbled notes while I’ve waited for my daughter to appear following an after-school activity. I’ve written on the front steps, at the edge of the bed late at night, in the one spot in the basement that didn’t get covered in drywall dust last month, and, yes, a coffeehouse.

All this points to the fact that, for me, writing is not only habit, but it’s a way of being in the world. I remember when my daughter was a baby and I was in grad school. I thought I had to have silence and solitude to write anything decent. That is still an ideal for which I sometimes aim, but the steady practice of writing has allowed me to work through less-than-ideal conditions on a regular basis. For this, I am grateful.

My car should be ready soon. Then I’ll be back at my computer so I can edit these very words.


This past weekend, I attended Shuga Records’ Hoolie Fest in Northeast Minneapolis, which benefited St. Stephen’s Human Services, Minneapolis. St. Stephen’s has a mission to end homelessness. It’s a fine organization to throw your support behind. Learn more about St. Stephen’s here.

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  1. Hi! I came over to check out your blog from LinkedIn and I really enjoy a lot of the snippets you have on here 🙂 I look forward to following! As for the strangest places, I have (as I posted on LinkedIn) written on the Brooklyn Bridge, Empire State Building, and numerous other weird places. Usually from the comfort of my sunroom though!


  2. Hi Janice – thanks for checking out the blog! This piece about writing in odd places started quite a conversation over on LinkedIn that's been fun to follow. I'm glad you put your comment here. That we all write in whatever space we find ourselves in certainly speaks to writing as a way of life, doesn't it?


  3. Today, I am writing in the most idyllic bucolic setting in Patagonia, Arizona, which is a contradiction to the typical Arizona desert look of cactus, scrub juniper and dirt and rock. Rather than looking out the door at sparsely populated, thirsty plants, I am surrounded by pines, apple, nectarine and peach trees and assortment of other plants that would not survive the soon to come brutal desert heat. And fortunately, today, I am not waiting for anything or anyone, which is a pleasant diversion from that alternative life I live that dominates so much of my time. This is bird watcher’s paradise, and many of those critters, who have no one closely watching them at this time, are singing outside the open French doors to our rented cottage. There is also a local friendly cat that walks in uninvited for a few minutes of attention and then leaves without adieu, perhaps to find someone with whom to share her friendliness. Did I mention that my visitor is shedding? One minute, please, while I find a towel to wipe off a handful of grey-black hair. Back. Although the town is located about twenty miles from the Mexican border, the source of so much politics here in Arizona and across at least two countries, Patagonia is laid back. The most pressing issue right now appears to be the plumbing of a garden fountain just outside our door. Two men are discussing proper plumbing techniques. Having no measurable mechanical aptitude, I listen for a solution, which by the way appears elusive to them too, but I offer no unsolicited and most likely incorrect advice. Last night, we took our dinners outside to a wrought-iron table in the middle of the garden and enjoyed our meal and wine while watching the sun fall out of sight somewhere in California or beyond. Yeah, this ain’t exactly a Toyota dealership, but I’ll suffer with it.


  4. I'll definitely pay The Writing Loft a visit – thanks for stopping by. People really seem to love this question – the conversation is still going on over at LinkedIn after more than a month.


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