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If You Want to Write A Book, Go to a Boring Place

A friend is writing a book and asked me what I thought about taking a writing trip.

“I’m going to Bali to write for a month.” she said.

Big mistake! I thought. The goal of writing a book in Bali never ends well.

Don’t go to paradise to get something done. Go to Bali, or any place like Bali, for lots of reasons. (I went there for a birthday by myself.)

But if you want to find a place to write, don’t go to an interesting place. Go somewhere where you can withdraw from the world, fully free of engagement. Go somewhere where there’s nothing to do.

Next, remove as many additional distractions as possible. Some people like to do all their writing offline. That doesn’t work for me or my writing style—but if you can live without the internet for a while, might as well try.

Then, once you’ve found your quiet place, don’t do anything fun there. Don’t go out. Don’t make other plans. Just write!

Okay, if you need a break—fine. But tie your fun to your goals. Give yourself the breaks you need as you reach your milestones. Provide a reward at the end of the day or the chapter.

Whenever possible, don’t defer your deadlines. More time is not always better. In many cases, Parkinson’s law will set in: the work expands to fill the allotted time.

As much as possible, avoid work that “needs” to be done, but has nothing to do with the work you’re supposed to be doing. When I’m writing a book, my house is never cleaner and my bookshelves never more organized. I’ll do anything to avoid writing!

But at a certain point, you have to stop tidying the shelves and planning trips that allow you to continue deferring the work.

That’s how you write.