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The Writing Cave

Some of the authors I follow refer to their workspaces as “the writing cave”. The inference is that it’s not only shut off from the outside world, but dark and forbidding, as caves may be. Yet caves may also be a place of refuge.

Some writers, advising others, mention how writing is a lonely pursuit, and advocate writing in a coffee shop, surrounded by people and thus not alone. I can’t imagine a less productive setting, unless it’s Union Station at rush hour. How can you concentrate in the midst of such a hubbub and confusion? For me, writing is something you have to do alone.

“Alone” is not a synonym for “lonely”. “Alone” means you can hear your own thoughts, laugh out loud or cry, if that’s the mood you’re in, without worrying about what people around you think.

It’s not that I don’t like people. I absolutely do. I revel in the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make each of them unique, and possibly a character in one of my stories. But when there are people around, they distract me. I am too busy watching and listening to them to pay attention to my writing. I might go to a coffee shop for inspiration, but never to write, other than possibly to jot down descriptions of people or scraps of conversation that might fit into a story.

For the same reason, I don’t join “write-ins” during Na-No-Wri-Mo, even on-line ones. They are counter-productive for me. Some people perform better as part of a group, using the group’s encouragement as fuel, or maybe needing accountability to be able to produce. Some, myself included, are do best on our own. When the work is done, that’s the time to share and compare.

So give me my cave where I can hibernate, safe and warm while winds of noise and confusion howl without. In the spring, I will emerge to proudly show off the cubs I have birthed.

photo by Marco Secchi on


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