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How to Find the Perfect Writing Spot

I always find it interesting to learn where writers actually do their writing. There are the usual suspects—coffee shops, group writing spaces, home offices, local parks—most of which I’ve used at one point or another. (There’s one coffee shop in particular where I should probably be paying rent by now.) But there are also the not-so-traditional spots. For me, these are the gold mine. I find that writing in unorthodox venues helps stir up more inspiration than if I were sitting at my desk. So I’ve devised this handy, four-question quiz to help you secure a bizarre writing spot of your very own! But beware: strange looks may result. (This guest column from young adult & middle grade writer Jacqueline Resnick.)

I always find it interesting to learn where writers actually do their writing. There are the usual suspects—coffee shops, group writing spaces, home offices, local parks—most of which I’ve used at one point or another. (There’s one coffee shop in particular where I should probably be paying rent by now.) But there are also the not-so-traditional spots. For me, these are the gold mine. I find that writing in unorthodox venues helps stir up more inspiration than if I were sitting at my desk. So I’ve devised this handy, four-question quiz to help you secure a bizarre writing spot of your very own! But beware: strange looks may result.

(Do you need different agents if you write multiple genres?)

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Guest column by Jacqueline Resnick, author of Young Adult and
Middle Grade novels. She also writes under the name Jacqueline Green.
Her first novel, THE DARING ESCAPE OF THE MISFIT MENAGERIE
(Razorbill, Dec. 2012), is about four trapped circus animals who plan an
escape with the ringmaster’s son—and make a true friend in the process.
Her second novel, TRUTH OR DARE, comes out in May of 2013 and is
the first in a YA thriller series. You can learn more at jacquelinewrites.com.
Or, follow her on Twitter at: @jacqwrites.


1. If you could have any caffeinated beverage in the world, what would it be?

For me this is the vanilla chai latte—the sugary, powdery kind, not the healthy tea kind. I find that, first thing in the morning, the best place for me to write is anywhere that serves my vanilla chai. It motivates me to get out of the house, and the rush of sugar and caffeine jump-starts my brain. So if mornings are your writing time, I recommend developing a desperate craving for your favorite beverage and then hunting it down, no matter where it takes you. It might be a coffee shop; it might be a bagel shop; it might even be 30th Street Train Station in Philadelphia. (Their chai is top-notch.) Don’t be afraid to go back for seconds, either. On some mornings, one chai is just not enough.

2. Do you enjoy a nice, hot shower?

It’s true: I’ve been known to write in the shower. And not just in condensation on the door, either. There are actual products meant for this! I use this one: http://www.myaquanotes.com/. Apparently, it’s a known fact (or at least a hypothesized fact) that steam and hot water help jog your brain. There is a slight health risk attached to this, however. If you get really caught up in what you’re writing, you might eventually step out of the shower to discover you’ve turned into a prune. But sometimes a little sacrifice is worth it. As the AquaNotes brand says: No more great ideas down the drain!

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3. What’s your favorite activity?

I love to walk. My mom doesn’t have her license, so I grew up walking everywhere. Now, I live in New York City, where everyone walks everywhere. But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered I could do two of my favorite things at the same time: walk and write. That’s right: I write on the notepad app on my phone while strolling around my neighborhood. There are definitely downsides. You might step in a pile of something unappealing. (Done it.) You could nearly get tangled up in a dog walker’s swarm of leashes. (Done it.) And you will definitely get annoyed looks from people who think you’re a frantic text messager. (ALL THE TIME.) But who cares? I get so much more done when I’m writing and walking—and I get to go on great, long walks.

(Note: I would not recommend this if your favorite activity is bike riding. Or horseback riding. Or motorcycle riding. Any kind of riding, in fact.)

4. How do you commute?

I get some of my best writing done on public transportation. Subway, train, bus, plane, you name it. I find it’s the perfect time to write. You’re stuck there, for one, with nothing to do and a desperate need to distract yourself from the strange smell lifting off that discarded sandwich on the floor… I’m constantly getting sections of chapters written on the subway or the train. It makes me wonder how I ever survived without the notepad app on my phone.

Hopefully this quiz has given you an idea for your perfect, bizarre writing spot—one that will earn you plenty of strange looks of your own. Don’t worry: soon enough, you won’t even notice them.

(If you're looking for a good writing event along with your perfect writing location, check out this list of writers conferences.)

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