What to do there and why it’s good for you
A guest post by Shaun Levin
Writing outdoors and away from our desks helps deepen our experience of the world, expand our range as writers, and takes us out of our comfort zone. Sometimes I feel that writing anywhere but at home is where I work best. For the past ten years or so I’ve been writing about painters while sitting in parks, art galleries, waiting rooms, cemeteries, on mountains or on trains. Not just in cafés.
Not everyone agrees on the virtues of public writing. A while back, Geoff Dyer took a dig at writing in public places. “In the early 1990s,” he said, “I went to live in Paris. The usual writerly reasons: back then, if you were caught writing in a pub in England, you could get your head kicked in, whereas in Paris, dans les cafés . . . Since then I’ve developed an aversion to writing in public. I now think it should be done only in private, like any other lavatorial activity.” On the whole, I like what Geoff Dyer has to say. When I was first starting out as a writer, Geoff Dyer said something nice to me, the kind of thing an established writer says to a new writer that fortifies the new writer’s faith in their own work.