Like you, I’ve read the myriad of stereotypical stories about writers sitting at street side cafes with the sun slowly setting on the horizon and a piping hot cup of French press on the table, and just writing away until their little hearts are content. I’ve read about writers who jam out to carefully-curated set lists while writing, and about those lucky souls who can douse the inevitable frustrations of a writing session with a few quick belts of Scotch or a glass of wine.
While I’m sure all of these scenarios are entirely possible and are undoubtedly playing out somewhere on the globe–probably at this very moment–I must confess I’m none of these writers.
What I’ve come to learn is that I’m basically the Hannibal Lecter of writers. That is, in order for me to write a single word of value, I need to lock myself in a stark, white room with no windows and potentially cover my face with a protective face shield to prevent myself from taking a huge bite out of an unlucky onlooker who may have the galling audacity to ask, “Hey buddy…whatcha doin’?”
It took a much longer time than I’d like to admit before I finally accepted this feature of my writing curse and attempted to work within its confines. The culmination? One of the most bizarre and childish writing environments I’ve ever seen…and it’s located right inside my own house.
See, I did a thing.
It was a few years back, but the fruits of my labor seem to pay off on the daily. I turned an extra bedroom in my house into MY ultimate writing room–and I truly stress the word ‘my’ here, because I’m pretty sure the writing community at large would find it hard to work in a room that’s nothing more than a campy, immature tribute to my childhood. After all, I write for kids. So I figured: shouldn’t I remember being a kid while I dare to write for them?
That’s why every square inch of wall space in a 10’ x 10’ room is plastered with baseball memorabilia, old pennants, autographed cards, old jerseys, and outright photographs of some of the sporting world’s most revered cathedrals–Wrigley Field and old Yankees Stadium to name a few. The floor space is littered with ice hockey equipment, baseball bats, tennis rackets, boxing gloves, and other assorted goodies–all the trappings of my youth.
Basically, the only thing that could possibly distract me in a room full of relics is myself, and that’s much easier for me to control than the crowd levels at your local watering hole or cafe.
Now, I don’t write any of this to say that writing the next great American novel at your nearest Starbucks is a bad idea. It may be perfect for you. It’s not for me. I write this for one simple reason, to remind you that every writer is a unique animal. We all have our preferences. We all come to learn, in time, what makes us tick and what drives us to be most productive in our writing lives. I write this to urge you to trust your instincts. Throw other people’s judgements to the wind and write your next novel from the bubbling waters of your new hot tub…if that’s your thing, and even if it means you may have a clash with the actual laws of physics.
You do you. And do it everyday.
Frank Morelli is the author of the young adult novel, No Sad Songs (2018), a YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers nominee and winner of an American Fiction Award for best coming of age story. The first book in his debut middle grade series, Please Return To: Norbert M. Finkelstein (2019), is a Book Excellence Award finalist. It provides young readers with a roadmap to end bullying. Morelli’s upcoming young adult novel, On the Way to Birdland, hits shelves on June 8, 2021. His fiction and essays have appeared in various publications including The Saturday Evening Post, Cobalt Review, Philadelphia Stories, and Highlights Magazine. Connect with him on Twitter @frankmoewriter and on Instagram @frankmorelliauthor.