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.