This summer, my son was on our municipal swim team. It isn’t uncommon to see an adult sitting in the stands reading, waiting for their young swimmer to finish up. One day, I noticed one of the father’s sitting right in the middle of the hoopla. He wasn’t reading the newspaper. He wasn’t reading Facebook posts on his I-phone. Nope. He was 100% focused on the great big text book sitting in his lap. He was so focused that his son had to get within a couple of feet to get his attention.
I can’t read fluff with that much going on around me let alone read anything substantial. But this dad is a nurse and he has several kids. Just about anywhere he finds himself is a little loud. “I’ve always been able to focus.”
Several times I tried to read in the university library when I was a student. The comfy chairs didn’t work because they were on main traffic paths on the main two floors. Every time someone walked by, I looked up. I finally found a section in government docs or some such that was both well lit and isolated. I could read and write there uninterrupted.
I’ve gotten loads better, I can actually work with people in the same room but they can’t talk to me. Cannot. Talk. To. Me.
I know other writers who have to have a perfectly clean desk. Nothing can be out of place. For my part, I get distracted if there’s a landslide and something hits my foot or knocks into my coffee but I’m pretty tolerant of clutter as long as I can move without creating an avalanche.
I’ve heard people tell new writers to just set up their laptop in the kitchen an write. That’s well and good, if it will work for you.
And that’s my point. Do what works for you. Try one thing and if that doesn’t work, try another. You have to find your optimal location, not mine. You may need your very own space, or you may be able to work in the stands at swim practice. Remember, it only has to work for you.