Chuck Palahniuk once said in an interview that his favorite place to write was in the waiting area of an emergency room. To be embedded in a whirlwind of raw emotions to feed off of. And no one ever, ever bothers you.
Granted it sounds a bit parasitic. Some might call it macabre. But Palahniuk gets paid good money to write novels, so chew on that.
I prefer public places. Coffee shops work well. My drug close by, though it’s hard to key when my hands start shaking after twenty cups. I like the library on occasion. City parks. But my favorite place to write in is a bar.
I work nights, so I find myself in bars that open at 7am. I’m usually the first one in the door. As the denizens shuffle in, I type away in the corner on my laptop, a cold beer sitting patiently next to the keyboard. Moderation is important, or your stories end up resembling the slurred ramblings of, well, a failed writer. One beer an hour. No hard liquor. No shots.
Headphones are essential. I’m a proud member of the LGBT community, but their musical tastes are lacking. Blasting Lady Gaga at 8am? Really? And, of course, there’s the typical crowd noise to contend with. So, headphones with classical or instrumental electronic music, almost anything with no lyrics. On noisy mornings (usually on a game day), while I write, I listen to death metal until my ears bleed.
So why contend with the noise, the bad music, the smell of urine and Clorox wafting from the bathroom stalls? The same reason Palahniuk sits in emergency waiting rooms. I, too, feed off the energy of the crowd around me, like a vampire in the shadows, greedily drinking in the elation and misery of veteran alcoholics. I observe the groups telling jokes and the loners sipping on their despair. I write.
And the harder I work to ignore the distractions, the harder I work on the words, the stories, the characters. I have to force myself to concentrate and live in my fictional world, far away from obnoxious laughter, the loud calls for shots, Lady fucking Gaga.