Writer’s Toolkit: Finding the Perfect Writing Spot—Transplanting


The idea of transplanting is simple:  If you want to write about a place—leave it.

Ernest Hemingway first referred to this in A Moveable Feast when he wrote about Michigan while sitting in a café in Paris.

I was writing about up in Michigan and since it was a wild, cold, blowing day it was that sort of day in the story.  I had already seen the end of fall come through boyhood, youth and young manhood, and in one place you could write about it better than in another.  That was called transplanting yourself, I thought, and it could be as necessary with people as with other sorts of growing things (Hemingway 17).

Following his advice, I’ve tried writing from several locations.

In Paris, I wrote about Michigan, just like Hemingway, and felt more of a connection to my first home, there, thousands of miles away, than I ever did before.

In Puerto Rico, I didn’t write about white sands, hermit crabs, and mofongo.  I wrote about Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

Alas, traveling the world for a perfect writing spot is expensive, so I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a local place to write about my travels.

Inspired by Sara Gruen, I transplanted myself from my bed to my bedroom closet, like she did when completing her novel, Water for Elephants, but unlike Gruen who had enough space for a desk in her walk-in closet, I found sitting on top of a pile of shoes, surrounded by dust bunnies, not exactly conducive to the writing process.

In my local area, I thought I found a perfect writing space at Target— a table by a window that overlooked the Annapolis Town Center.  It gave me plenty of room to spread out and was conveniently located near Starbucks in case I needed more of a diversion than the 50% off skinny jeans sign that loomed within view.

Then, I discovered a plush leather couch at my gym.  It, too, had a window, nearby coffee, and two hours of free childcare.  The noise of grunting weightlifters and chatting friends bothered me at first, but once I got going and my thoughts took over, the surrounding commotion faded away.  From this couch, I’ve found a great deal of inspiration and even completed two full revisions of my novel.

Finding the perfect place to write might be a little bit of a ritual for me, but I find it works, so next time you’re stuck or in need of inspiration, book that flight to your favorite travel destination and if you can’t afford it, just look around, because there is a perfect couch, table, or closet just waiting for you to write about a magical faraway land.

Hemingway, Ernest. A Moveable Feast. London: Arrow Books, 2011.

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