Posted tagged ‘writing anywhere’

Elliptical Thinking ….errr….Writing

May 12, 2010

Gym Blogger

The other day I blogged about learning to write wherever–not, in other words, using one’s lack of a writer’s cabin as an excuse to put off work.

Today, I’m putting that admonition to the test by blogging at the gym.  Right now, I’m writing as I walk down the stairs to my gym, now I’m writing as I swipe my gym pass, now as I walk past the yoga class (writing there might be considered anti-Om). The place I’m heading is the elliptical machine, a machine which is dull, repetitive, and has a good ledge for my notebook.

And now I’m on the elliptical machine, and, in fact, I am already experiencing a slightly uncomfortable burn in my upper thighs and a definite twist in my lower back.  (One problem with writing on the elliptical, or perhaps any exercise, machine is that it’s hard to keep your body symmetrical.  I should note here that I’m writing in an old-fashioned composition notebook and not in an iPad or other electronic device which would perhaps allow one to jog and blog in perfect two-handed symmetry.)

Ah.  (It’s working… I mean, I’m working,  sort of.)

Though there are a few caveats to writing on an elliptical machine:

1.  Take care not to press your notebook into the electronic display or you will completely lose track of your time, strides per minute, calories, distance and heart rate.  Actually, forget about heart rate.  You are not holding to the hand bars and those heart rate measuring strips never truly work in any case.

2.  Do not expect to reach your maximum speed.  Maybe, in fact, it’s best not to even try for your maximum speed.

3.  Do not expect to write the great American novel.  At least not on the elliptical machine.   Frankly, if you wish to avoid disa—

Oops!  Just pressed the display  and the whole machine is rearing up, meaning that I’ve not only lost my time and calories, but all my resistance settings have plummeted and I’m suddenly going about a mile a minute.  No, only 141 strides per minute, but that’s still a bit fast for good sentence structure, and it also feels–

As I was saying (I’ve reset the settings now), if you want to avoid disappointment, you may be wise to let go of expectations of writing the Great American Novel, whether on or off the elliptical machine.

But seriously, the points of all this are:

1.  You can write anywhere.  Granted, the writing may not be always that great, but it can help you keep your writing muscles toned.

2.  We (I) seem to have this need to both multi-task and communicate.  Yes, it might be better to quell these needs, but sometimes there can be real comfort in just accepting your predilections–your fullest, most manic self (if you are not actually hurting that self or others).

Sure, people may view your truest self as being a bit strange–for example, the people around me right now may think I am a pretty poor excuse for a gym rat.  But, who cares?   There are plenty of empty machines to my sides.  In fact, my whole little section of this fairly crowded gym is completely unoccupied….

Hmmm……

Blocking Writer’s Block: Don’t Worry About the Where

May 11, 2010

Writing IN Your Notebook

I am returning to my series of posts on blocking writer’s block this morning at one of my favorite secret places for writing—the New York County Supreme Court building at  111 Centre Street.

Yes, the downstairs lobby is a bit tacky.  From the outside, the place looks dark, shut down; you feel almost certain from the sidewalk, that the main exterior doors will not open when you push.  (In fact, they do not open–much.   They squeak, scrape, and stick; with a lot of force, you can just wedge yourself through.)

But when you do get inside the building, past the metal detectors, beyond the dingy elevators, up to a highish floor, a sea change occurs—the main corridors here are lovely, with granite floors, marble (or faux marble) walls, and tall windows edging the South, West and East exposures, looking out over lower Manhattan.

I’m not saying that these corridors are particularly posh—there’s a definite utilitarian cast to the white plaster-board of the dropped ceilings.  Even the granite and marble look as if the colors were chosen not to show dirt.  (These are public buildings, after all.)

But the wooden benches that line the windowed walls are smooth and comfortable,  sunny and light, and, if you are not on a floor of bored and disgruntled jurors, the corridor carries such a serene hush that when, in the midst of muted steps, you hear a murmur about “what street informants want,” you are definitely taken aback.

I have to say upfront that I’ve never gone to New York Supreme just to write—I’ve always had some official purpose, and had to sit there waiting to fulfill it.   But it is nonetheless a very good place for writing.  (If you haven’t been sub poenaed, virtually no one bothers you.) Important caveat:  I think that coming in here just for a quiet place to work might actually constitute some kind of crime; it’s probably best not engage in it in a place filled with cops.  (They tend to be big cops, their hips bulging with handguns and, well, hip.)

So now, I’m on the subway writing.  It’s also not bad.  Yes, an unseasonably cold day makes the seasonal air conditioning drafty; the mechanized voices jabber nonstop, and there is the constant loud whir, bing, squeal of the engine, wheels, track.  Still, I have a seat.   (It’s not a rush hour train.)

More importantly,  I’m not just writing on the train right now—I’m mainly writing in my notebook. Which is about as quiet and uncluttered and spacious as lined white paper can be.

The point of all this:  don’t worry about where you are doing your work.  Don’t put it off because you don’t have the right space (a writer’s room, cabin, desk, even computer).  Don’t put it off even to wait for  the right moment.   I know it sounds clichéd, but the fact is that the only place you ever have to write is the place you are right now;  the only moment you ever have is this one.

To some degree, the same reasoning can be applied to drawing and painting. Again, of course, it’s wonderful to have a lovely studio, easel, table, but your drawing is not made only in your studio.  The place it truly inhabits is the page (or napkin or envelope.)

Of course, some places are genuinely more inconvenient or conducive than others;  if you have access to a convenient, conducive place, take it!  But the factor that most quickly makes a space workable is simply working in it.  Engagement is a great architect/decorator.

I don’t write this to be annoying, or to tout my own powers of concentration.  (They are not very good–when I write in a public space, I sometimes just follow my mind’s meanderings.)  I write to help counteract the many forces that lull one into procrastination.

If you want to work, then get to work!  Wherever!

(P.S. For more on blocking writer’s block, check out the writer’s block category on the ManicDDaily home page.)

(P.P.S. Computer problems delayed the posting of this post beyond my daily deadline, drat!  Sorry!)