Being a kid had its advantages. We didn’t have to worry about where the food on our table came from, just how to hide the peas under the mashed potatoes. We didn’t have to worry about where the money for the clothes went, just how to hide the fact that we ripped out the seam playing street hockey. And we didn’t have to worry about how our parents kept the roof from leaking, never mind how they managed to buy the house in the first place with us kids constantly draining the bank account. Plus we had that cool hideout in the backyard, the local woods, or in our case, the graveyard across the street.
Alas, those carefree days are gone. Now we are writers, and unlike the fantasies we told ourselves about the carefree life of writing, we are constantly on the prowl for that nice writing project. Preferably one that pays for the peas, the ripped clothes, and the leaky roof. To do that we need a place to write…our very own writer’s hideout.
That hideout could be anywhere, and often is while traveling. But we all have our “main place” to write. That place is unique to each of us, though likely fits into one of several general categories.
- The Writing Nook: Cramped for space (and who isn’t)? Your hideout may be a corner of your bedroom, guest room, storage room, laundry room, or garage. All you need is a spot horizontal enough for a laptop. It could even be a fold-away TV dinner table set up in front of the recliner (but keep the TV off).
- The Kitchen Table: Dinner is done, dishes are done, kids homework – done enough. Instant conversion to a writing hideout. Not so hidden, admittedly, but it is space to write. Works best for fiction writers who don’t need a lot of reference materials.
- The Home Office: Have a little extra space? Friends who rarely spend the night? No friends? Build yourself a home office/writing den in that extra room. It can double as a library. Fill the walls with inspiration, with books, or with a million Post-It notes full of story ideas.
- The Separate Writing Hideout: Some of you have an actual writing hideout, to which I say only that I am beyond envious. Perhaps a small shed out back to call your own, or a cabin in the woods, or a loft, or a converted attic, or a, well, you get the idea. Any space that is separated from interruption for any length of time is as close to a hideout as you can get. Now go use it.
- Starbucks: Or, just maybe, all you need is a change of location for an hour or two. At my local breakfast/lunch coffeehouse the corner table is the home of our ubiquitous “writer guy” diligently tapping away on his iPad. Every day. Every. Single. Day. [Okay, at least every single day that I go in there] If what you need for a hideout is not so much a place to hide from people as a place to free your mind from the usual home issues, then the coffee place can be your hideout. Just be sure to buy something to “rent” the space.
These hideouts are all for daily writing. But how about a writer’s retreat? Whether once a year, several times a year, or for a month-long crash-writing session to finish that novel, having a place to go for a writer’s retreat is gold. Write best in total isolation? Find a cabin in the woods. Inspired by lapping waves? Find a beachside or clifftop view of the ocean. Like the energy of crowds babbling in unknown languages? Book that flight to Rome.
The key to hideouts, of course, is not the hideout but the writing. The actual hideout will be personalized to you, whether because of financial or space constraints, personality preferences, or the weight of reality around you. So find your hideout. And write.
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is due out late July 2017.