Here are some of the reasons I came up with:
- The home crowd. Their support urges the players on when energy lags.
- The familiar location. Even though basketball courts are all the same size and have the same layout, being in a home court still makes the game easier to play.
- The lack of hostile viewers. Since most people in the stands aren't booing, and definitely aren't cheering at the team's losses, the players can focus on the game.
I know a lot of writers who have places where they can write and places where they can't. I've always thought this was partially an excuse. It's nice to blame low motivation on anything other than one's own self-discipline. If you "can't" write at home, then writing always has to be a special event. If you're not making progress on your draft ... well, that's because you haven't been able to go to your special writing space. But, as I thought about home turf, I realized the words we're using may be misleading. Rather than "I can't write unless I'm ..." maybe what we're truly saying is, "It's much harder to write when I'm ..."
Just as basketball players acknowledge the advantages of home turf, I think writers should acknowledge the truth of our situation, too. On difficult writing days, we might want to plant ourselves on home turf to give ourselves the advantage for our writing session. Why not give ourselves every advantage?
So, the question becomes: What's home turf for you? I asked various writers, and learned that home turf comes in many varieties.
- For one class of my middle school writers, home turf is our classroom. Curled up on couches, writing next to friends who are also writing, the girls feel energized and able to get to work.
- For one of my writer friends, home turf is one specific armchair with one specific footrest.
- For me, home turf is my home office, candles lit, quiet music playing, and twinkle lights glowing. Other times, home turf is in my car, laptop in my lap, watching waves crash on the beach.
What does home turf require?
- A cheering crowd? Sometimes, though you may not want a crowd that's cheering too loudly. For many of my writer friends, knowing someone out there cares is key. I've heard of writers texting friends when they start writing and when they stop, just so they feel the support of one another while their fingers fly across the keys. No matter what, though, home turf is somewhere where you feel safe and supported.
- A familiar location? Most likely. You want a place that appeals to your senses, ideally not a brand new place full of sensory information that is likely to distract you.
- Lack of hostility? Yes, absolutely. If someone in your space is actively trying to stop you from writing, too much energy will be spent on struggling past the resistance. On difficult writing days, you need as much energy as you can reserve for the actual writing.
Writing is challenging, and some days more so than others. I think we should allow ourselves (and also encourage any writing students we might have) to take advantage of home turf. On easy writing days, we should explore what home turf looks like, so that on the tough days, we have the tools we need.
What about you? When you write, what's home turf for you? Is there a way you can make your home turf even more supportive? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Naomi Kinsman is an author, educator and creativity coach. She is the author of the FROM SADIE'S SKETCHBOOK series and recently collaborated with singer, Natalie Grant on the GLIMMER GIRLS series. Naomi is also the founder and Executive Director or Society of Young Inklings, which offers classes, mentorships and publishing opportunities for young authors ages 6-16. Society of Young Inklings utilizes WRITERLY PLAY, the improv-based teaching methodology that Naomi developed, as the foundation for all of its programming. www.naomikinsman.com