What famous author suggested writing in public to get ideas and/or improve concentration?
March 16, 2011 12:59 PM   Subscribe

What famous author said that he liked writing in public places for ideas and/or training concentration?

I remember reading this profile of a famous author online where he gave tips on writing. One that always stood out was the he liked writing in public places like malls to either get ideas and/or to train his brain to tune out external distractions better. I've actually adopted this a few years ago with great success and basically disappear into my laptop when I write because of that practice.

Anyone have an idea who it could be? I thought it might be either Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemmingway, George Orwell, or Isaac Asimov, but I've so far been unable to confirm this.
posted by vincentv to Writing & Language (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If I remember correctly, Raymond Carver said that he often wrote in the car while while his family ran errands (wife and kids in the grocery store, etc.) But I think that he attributed this work style to a dedication to using whatever little time he had to himself to produce, instead of conditioning/training.
posted by tanuki.gao at 1:21 PM on March 16, 2011

David Mamet may be your guy, at least if the title "Writing in restaurants" is anything to go by. (It's been ages since I've read "Writing in restaurants", and I can't remember whether there's anything in it about actually writing in restaurants or other public places.)
posted by rjs at 3:43 PM on March 16, 2011

I heard Tolstoy used to write in public cafes, but I got it off Seinfeld.
posted by timsteil at 4:41 PM on March 16, 2011

Isaac Asimov.

I can't find the essay online, but I clearly remember reading a short piece by him on how, unlike authors who think they need seclusion and quiet to write, it's best for a writer to "train" himself to write around other people, near television sets and telepones, etc., in order to learn how to focus. I think another gist of his argument is that in the long run you'll be more productive if you learn how to focus around obvious distractions.

And Asimov was nothing if not prolific.

Try looking in some of his (many) collections of essays. I seem to remember reading it in a magazine, actually, probably in college. So maybe it was a sci-fi mag? Really can't remember, but I'd bet money we're thinking of the same essay.
posted by bardic at 10:03 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

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