Writing In Bars… And Other Ways To Shake Words Out Of Your Head


There are days where writing is a sisyphean task.

Days where I wish I could split myself in twelve to get everything I want to get done completed.

Days where I wish I could plug a jack into the base on my skull and do a full cerebral dump… sort out the mess when it’s on a computer screen.

Days when that biting little voice tries to eat away at my confidence and tries to convince me I couldn’t possibly have done that thing past Amy did…. And I certainly can’t do it again, even if I did.

I’ve never met a writer who didn’t feel that way from time to time.

Writing is hard.

You spend so much time in your own head, the act walks that fine tightrope between art and trade, and the internet is full of people who seem like they’re doing so much better than you--and worse, people who want to tear you apart to see what color your insides are.

I do a decent amount of writing in bars.

Ninety percent of that writing is in the form of snippets pieced together on my phone. The other ten percent (for a very specific book) is done on bar napkins.

There’s something about the various lighting levels, bar heights and noise levels that gets things moving on the highway that connects my brain to my hands.

Obviously I’m not suggesting you become an alcoholic or that you even need to go somewhere else. But a change in situation is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to shake things out of your head.

“It’s refreshing, is it not, after sitting so long in one attitude?”
Caroline Bingley, Pride & Prejudice (2005)
(And while I know that the statement above is about taking a walk instead of sitting… it applies to so many things.)

Changing things up is pivotal for me. And bars just do that.

Maybe for you that means going on a walk in the woods or through your town/city… sitting in the middle of an overcrowded mall... taking a drive to the beach…. Getting jittery at your local coffee shop.

Even just switching up the noise level in your house, or the lighting level, or the method you’re using to get the words out.

Sometimes they flow more easily from a pen than they do from your fingers to the keys.

Even a change of room can help (or not, depending on your personal home-distractibility).

So, the next time writing throws up challenges in your path, change your situation. Go get a drink. Rattle those words from your brain.

Because getting them on paper (physical or digital) is possibly the most important step.

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