Library Sessions

This may seem hard to believe, but until last week, I had almost never done any writing in the library. Or reading, for that matter.

This was true even in college; I very rarely studied in the library itself. I just couldn’t get into the proper groove there.

Last week, however, I opted to shake up my routine a bit, and I took my ancient laptop over to the local branch library, about five minutes where I live. How did it go? Somewhat to my surprise it went well, and continues to go well.

Sometimes it got too noisy, what with kids and such, but otherwise, the concept of writing in the library at this point in my history is going better than in previous times I’ve tried it.

Granted, I think on average I write fewer words per session at the library than I do at home, at least so far. That may improve. The key seems to be in the “downtime”. Whereas at home if a paragraph isn’t coming I may wonder around the room, or the whole house, or take a short break and do something else, at the library, all I really do when I am not writing, is sitting there in front of the laptop for a few minutes. I don’t have internet on the laptop when I go to the library, so all I am doing is either writer, or, not writing. And when i am not writing, I am more focused on getting back to it, because it’s the entire reason I left home with all of my equipment in the first place. It would be a bit of a waste to go through all of that only to abandon the writing once I got there. (And I don’t leave my laptop unattended.)

Not that my mind doesn’t wander sometimes at the library. But even the wandering is shorter, and less intense. My very presence at the table in the library narrows my field of thought to the point that letting my mind wonder every few sentences is actually a bit helpful. Though wandering can sometimes be deadly at home, I’ve found that working at the library is actually somewhat enhanced by the frequent, short mental breaks I take. Less gets done, but the quality of what gets done doesn’t really suffer, so it’s a net gain to me.

The library is closed on Friday, so I went to a local coffee shop/cafe on that day to do some writing. That was less productive. It was more noisy there, and though many a written word has been born in places such as that, (more than one person had a laptop open when I was there) my early sense is that I’ll get much more out of a library session than a coffee shop session.

Most of my writing will probably still be done at home, if I had to predict. Still, opening myself up to taking at least a small session of my writing work outside to the nearby library has contributed to my feeling like a writer who invests his time and energy wisely. Walking into a library and knowing what I will be working on gives me a sense of “writerness” that one can’t under estimate. Feeling as though one’s day, or at least a few hours of it revolves around the act of writing reflects back on the writer in a positive way. It says, “I’m here to write. This is what I do.” In my case, I’ve found that a brief drive to the library enhances the effect, for now.

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