I took another "no work to do" day off yesterday. (I've been taking at least one of those every two weeks for the last several months, and sometimes more, and if I have to be honest, a lot of the time that I did work could probably have been compressed. I'm beginning to wonder if I should try to negotiate going part-time. I'd be okay taking a 10% pay cut if I could plan on having a day off every two weeks and still keep my benefits. It's keeping the benefits that makes this a bit of a sticky wicket, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder if I shouldn't at least ask. The worst they could do is tell me it's not allowed.)
Anyway, I'd been planning on taking the afternoon off anyway, to go see the last Harry Potter movie with Matt. So really, the only unexpected time off was in the morning. I'd been assuming I'd spend it loafing around the house until a friend at work suggested I go to a coffee house and write.
I started to laugh at the cliche, but it was a lightbulb moment, to be honest: if I got out of the house to write, then I was less likely to fall prey to all the distractions that make writing at home a problem for me. I didn't go to an actual coffeehouse, but I did wind up in one of the comfy chairs at Panera. I bought a scone and a cup of coffee (the kind where you can refill it for free) and loaded up Pages on my iPad. I'd made sure the story I'm working on was loaded before I left the house. (I swear, Pages would be so much awesomer if it didn't make saving a document back down to your hard drive when you sync a complete headache -- seriously, I've given up trying to really sync and just email myself the document and copy/paste the changes into the master document in my Dropbox folder.)
I sat in that chair from about 8:30 until probably 11:30 or so, and I wrote. I got up a few times to refill my coffee, and once for a bathroom break. I stopped writing for maybe twenty minutes to talk to a lady at a table near mine who had a copy of Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book amongst a pile of library books. It was the sort of amazing and spontaneous conversation that I see in movies and wish was real, and it made me wish I could do that every day.
I wrote about 2000 words -- four or five pages -- and at around 11:30, I suddenly thought to check my email (on my iPhone, because I hadn't turned on the iPad's WiFi, in order to minimize distractions) and Matt had sent me the list of times for the movie. We'd agreed to meet at the Barnes and Noble that's across from the movie theater, so I went over there and wrote maybe another hundred words or so while I was waiting for him.
And then we decided that we weren't all that hungry yet, so we went to the earlier showing of Harry Potter and loved it. (When did Neville turn into a badass?! I loved it! LOVED. And all the nods to characters we haven't seen for ages, and -- I could do a whole blog post on the movie, seriously, but it would sum up to: LOVE.) When it was done, it was after three and my stomach was growling, so we went over to the Corner Pocket for a heavy snack/late lunch (I may always and forever order their "grit cakes" which is basically baked grits with butter and cheese and was perfect). And then I went home (strolling slowly through the Barnes and Noble on my way and almost buying a bunch of stuff).
And then after the kids were in bed, I took the iPad upstairs and wrote another 1000 or 1200 words -- which is a good evening's work for me by any measure. Even though I have to two-finger type on the iPad, which is slower. But the distractions are gone. No kitchen to troll for snacks I shouldn't be eating anyway. No little blue twitterbird in the menu bar telling me that someone has said something. No email icon. Not even the temporary distraction of having the online thesaurus to consult when I can't think of the word I want. I just use a word that's close enough and promise to fix it in the edits. And I just. Keep. Writing.
It was a fantastic day. And even though I adored the movie -- I cried at least three separate times and there was only one bit that I thought was possibly just the littlest bit cheesy and over the top -- I think the day still would've been almost as wonderful (or maybe even just as wonderful) if I'd gone back to writing (either at the Panera or in one of the B&N's comfy chairs) once Matt and I had met for lunch.
This is why you hear about writers going to coffee shops, I guess. This is why Lynn does her best writing at the freaking laundromat. Because you do whatever you have to do, whatever works, to force yourself to put away the distractions and Just. Keep. Writing. Because there's nothing like writer's high.