The Search for a Quiet Place

I’m sitting now at Dulce Cafe in Cookeville, realizing that my search for a new place to write has still not ended. For many months, I assumed that I was writing less because I had a son. Recently, however, I have begun to think this is neither correct nor fair (I never want to start “blaming” things on familial responsibility).

Perhaps the likeliest real reason I’ve not written as much lately is that I no longer have a place to write. For many years, I did most of my blogging at “The Way With Coffee” (or the various incarnations of coffee houses in the same location with different names), which just happened to close down the same day my son was born. Visiting that coffee shop became an almost daily morning routine, as I loved the ability to retreat into one of the back rooms to read and write.

Because the closing of “my” coffee shop coincided with Nate’s birth (and, incidentally, Michael Jackson’s death), it was easy to mistakenly identify the cause of my fruitlessness. Nearly every book or article on writing that I’ve ever read, though, lists having a designated writing place as one of the things most critical for a writer. And I haven’t got one.

This deficiency is beginning to show not only in the quantity of my writing, but in the quality. A couple days ago I posted something that was easily the most poorly worded and thought out post that has ever appeared here. After an hour or so I removed it out of sheer embarrassment (thankfully few saw it), but the fact is that it never should have made it up in the first place. I was so desperate to post anything that I just rushed something together when I had a few spare minutes. What a stupid thing to do!

Writing is a discipline. Like any discipline, it takes time and dedication to do it well. I don’t want this to be something that happens in my “spare time”. In fact, I don’t even want my life to have such a thing as spare time. I want to be a diligent steward of time, which means taking account of every minute and using it purposefully for the glory of God.

To that end, I am searching for a new place to write. Home doesn’t work. My family is not a distraction, but if I am fruitlessly spending time at home I’m no good to them or anyone. I want to value my “home” time enough to be fully available to my wife and son when I am there.

My office doesn’t work…. it IS a distraction. There are always things to do at the office. If I don’t clearly separate writing time from working time, I am liable to waste away large swaths of time vacillating between multiple tasks and accomplishing none of them… wondering where the time went at the end of the day.

So far none of the other places I’ve tried have worked. I love coming here to Dulce, but so do many other people that I love! This needs to remain a place where I can come and be social, without feeling “interrupted” by friends and acquaintances who want to say hi. And lest you think, “But you’re writing there now,” know that I have been here already for two hours, and have only this rambling personal reflection (which required neither study nor forethought) to show for it!

Cane Creek Park doesn’t work. I want a place that I can consistently come and be comfortable regardless of weather and temperature.

Poet’s doesn’t work. Too crowded.

McDonald’s (or any other fast food chain) doesn’t work. I like people-watching too much.

Christie’s Cafe might work. It’s been the best so far, but I would have to learn to restrain myself from partaking of their excellent breakfast menu, lest blogging become a very expensive habit!

What are some other suggestions? Where do you go for quiet time?

6 comments on “The Search for a Quiet Place

  1. Rob LaRoy says:

    I’m not much help. I have to rise well before anyone else at my house to get any amount of quiet time. That way I don’t feel as though I am taking time from my family; however, as I am not a writer I don’t have to worry about sounding coherent.

  2. Emily Williams says:

    How about the library??? For me I would need a quiet place with no noise or people (I too, like to people watch). You could find a nice comfy chair in a secluded corner and write away! AND you have all the reference material you need right at your fingertips! πŸ™‚

    • John Gardner says:

      Interesting you should mention this, because one of my (very pleasant, mind you) interruptions at the coffee shop this morning was from the director of the Bryan Symphony Orchestra, which is our local professional ensemble. They do all of their performances in the TTU music building, but they are officially a Cookeville symphony, and not a university group. He said that as thankful as he is to be able to rehearse and perform at TTU, he wished that people from the community felt more comfortable coming onto the college campus. TTU really is a “bubble”, where no one goes that doesn’t have some affiliation with the school, whether it’s concerts, sporting events, or anything else.

      All that to say… our public library is super lame, and that would never work. The university library might actually be ideal, I just never consider it because I never set foot on Tech’s campus anymore unless it’s for a concert. Maybe I feel uncomfortable there like everyone else? I should give the Tech library a try…

      • Emily Williams says:

        Mentioning the symphony hall gave me the idea that that might also be a good place to go, as long as no one uses it for classes, etc.

        I hope the campus library might work for you too though. πŸ™‚

  3. Ruth Cropper says:

    Don’t think I would be of much help either. My quiet time starts when Tom leaves out the door for work @ 6 a.m. I’m not much of a writer, but I do sit on my sofa and take time to read God’s word. When I do get out of the house for quiet time, it’s usually taking a walk and enjoying creation.

  4. Julie Crone says:

    My hubby likes to read and write as well sometimes he writes in the bathroom!!. Maybe a bookstore, library, park or even in your car.

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