I still maintain a dream of retreating to my own little cabin in the woods. A tiny shack, with a little wood stove and just enough power — perhaps fed by a solar panel or small turbine — to charge a laptop. But no Wi-Fi, no cable, no television, no games, no children, no felines. Just books, and a writing table, and a comfortable chair for reading.

Wouldn’t it be glorious? A perfect environment for writing, so nothing could distract you from the unbridled productivity of an author at work. No excuses to avoid wrapping up that last manuscript.

The dream satisfies, but perhaps it satisfies precisely because it’s a form of psychological escapism. See, you don’t need a cabin in the woods to be a productive writer. Just ask J. K. Rowling, who wrote her first Harry Potter novel in fits and starts, on buses and on breaks at a café. She didn’t have the luxury of spending hours or days in a secluded paradise where everything was perfect: Her writing cabin stayed with her. It was, in fact, her state of mind, not a place on a map.

We find lots of excuses for avoiding writing, or justifying low productivity. I have mine …


… but I also know that despite my feline overlords rubbing their faces and shoulders against my touchscreen monitor or plopping their furry bodies on my keyboard, I’m still the human and I could fix this problem were I so inclined. Yet “I can’t get stuff done because Cats” gets trotted out quite frequently as an excuse for not being able to write.

Perhaps instead of idolizing that picturesque cabin in the woods, and whining when the real world differs therefrom, we should build a cabin within our own hears and minds. Stock it with the mental reserve to plow through when the writing gets tough. Set it in a serene place so even when you’re in the middle of a hurricane, you’re not distracted from your story.

You can buy a real, physical cabin in the woods. But if your head’s not in the right place, it still won’t be enough.

A (Writing) Cabin in the Woods

2 thoughts on “A (Writing) Cabin in the Woods

  • 2015-08-22 at 8:51 pm

    No cabin in the woods is proof enough against my procrastination-itis. I’ll simply find something else to distract me (Oh, look! Shiny squirrel!). I went without phone and Internet at home last month for 11 straight days after my phone line got cut (thanks Semco for cutting and not caring. And a big thank you to AT&T for taking your sweet f***ing time in repairing. You guys are awesome!) and I STILL managed to write almost diddly squat. *sigh* Back to only dreaming of being a writer.

    • 2015-08-22 at 9:00 pm

      Noo, Steven! Not just a dream. Think of Edison’s claim that he didn’t fail at creating a light bulb — he just found 999 ways to *not* make one. Distractions are a problem, yes. I have them too (meow!). But decamping to a coffee shop can help. Or a beach. Or something like that.

      If writing is important to you, you’ll find a time to do it. Maybe you have the dream now, but it needs time to percolate. I wanted to get my certification as a scuba diver a long time ago. Took me three years to do the simple task of signing up for a simple open-water diving class. Took me another three years after that to buy my gear and actually get into the water again.

      Just keep working at it, and don’t give up. Ever! Perhaps the day you get down to writing is next week, or next month, or next year.

      Just. Don’t. Quit.


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