Monday, November 16, 2009

Where to Write

When I originally started this blog, I made a list of topics that I could possibly write about. After the first month of posting, I've kind of veered away from writing "articles" and have focus more on aggregate posting, updates, or project based blogs (W&CK, Mateo, Glory Days). Everyone now and then, when searching for something to write about, I'd return to that list I made. One of the topics on it was about "where to write." I haven't written about it up until now because I always though it was a bit of a boring blog. Because Travis and I haven't really been hardcore writing, I didn't have an recent personal experience to make it more than "Well, there's coffee shops, at home...and wherever else..." which are things you already know, and quite frankly, just isn't very interesting.

But as Travis and I have gotten back in to serious writing, it's actually become a topic of conversation between us, so I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe it's still boring...I don't know.

Travis and I have written in a lot of different places. We wrote our first script at Cafe Vita in Seattle before we moved down to Los Angeles. Why Vita? Well, that Summer Travis worked full time at a place down on Capitol Hill and I was self-employed, doing projects for my production company. My days were often free but Travis couldn't do anything till after work. It was easier for me to drive over to Seattle and meet up with Travis, who worked next door to Cafe Vita.

It was a great place, well-worn, good coffee and open late. (Travis and I were just talking today about our marathon writing sessions for our first script. I'd meet up with Travis around 6, we'd grab a bite, and then write until midnight.)

Then, Travis and I moved to LA and we really didn't know where to write. At the time, we felt that LA was void of coffee shops. (Newbie confession: we tried writing at Urth Cafe thinking it was something different than it was.) So, we worked on Glory Days at the kitchen table of our apartment and at the apartment complex's cafe (we didn't have Internet at the time and the cafe provided it for free).

We also worked at the Farmer's Market Starbucks for a while. When I was writing The Ronnie Day Project I did most of it there. It wasn't until after I had returned from my 3 month, Ronnie Day Project Post-Production vacation in New York that Travis told me he had found a great coffee shop where he had been doing a lot writing.

And that's how we found our way to Insomnia Cafe. We landed on this place because it was close for us, even after I got married and moved into an apartment with my wife. Insomnia Cafe really feels like a place to write. In fact, there's a huge amount of regulars who seem to be there every night. You take a break from writing, chat with other people, meet people, and the come back to the computer and keep writing. I've always felt my creatively soar there even though, thinking back on it, we haven't actually written an entire script there.

Most of the writing we did there was rewrites on Glory Days and our thriller script. We wrote a couple of TV specs there and did a lot of development. We wrote our smaller indie script Dig at my house, over the course of 10 days and 10 bottle of wine, because we needed the Internet to write it (that's for another post) and Travis' roommate (and one of my best friends) was always home with his girlfriend watching TV.

Then we drifted away from it. And when my wife and I bought a condo in North Hollywood, followed by Travis moving to an apartment downtown, we moved away from Insomnia completely. Travis and I began writing our next script, the one we were forced to abandon, bouncing back and forth between our places. I now had a dedicated office, which I thought we would be using all the time, and Travis didn't have a TV...which meant his new roommate wouldn't be inclined to bother us by watching re-runs of Rock of Love.

Because of driving distances, time, etc, we'd often split our time between each place. Travis had a weird work schedule that had him working weekends, with three days free in the middle of the week. Sometimes we'd write during the day, other times at night, but mostly at our homes.

But we weren't able to break through anything. I think there's something that becomes a little bothersome about writing at home. It's too comfortable. It's too easy to get up and grab a snack or a drink and interrupt your writing. It's too easy for a wife or roommate to get to you. It's too easy to surf the Internet. And it's nearly impossible for me to get any work done if I'm writing at home alone. Forget it. I can edit, I can prep for directing, but being at home, alone, and writing is an impossible feat for me.

Anyway, most of our writing was put on hold for a couple months this summer as I had a few music videos to direct and edit and Travis worked on the treatment for our musical.

Now, after getting the assignment, we've been re-adjusting back into writing mode. The week following the good news, we worked down at Travis' place. The Starbucks there isn't bad but it closes at 10 and we usually try to write from 8-11.

Following our development meeting on Friday, Travis had to go take care of some personal shit and I decided to go work on a write up incorporating the new notes. Since I was in the area, I thought why not go to Insomnia? It's always been a great place to write.

So, I did. I got my cup of coffee, settled in and started writing. And I continued writing. And continued writing. And before I knew it, I had three pages, single spaced, covering the entire back story.

Travis called me when he was finished and was like, "Where you at, homey?" and I was like, "Yo...G, I'm like, busting up all over this page, for reelz, at the Insomnia Cafe." And he goes, "Very nice. I do not want to mess with your flow, so I will come over and we'll write there." And I said, "Yes, brilliant!"

(Our conversations are almost always like that. We're friends to all linguistic styles.)

So we did. We planned to write this past weekend, both days, but my wife and I were getting a new car on Saturday and it ended up taking all day, so I wasn't able to meet up with him.

Sunday, we were trying to decide where to write for the afternoon and decided to go back to Insomnia, so we did, and we got a lot of work done. I'm not a superstitious guy, but I'm a big believer in continuing with what works. Odds are we'll end up writing during the week at Travis' (it's a time management thing that I don't really want to get into) but for now, Insomnia does seem to be working for us.

How, in any way, does this help you? I don't know. I just thought it was interesting. Quite possibly the only thing about writing in a coffee shop in Los Angeles is that everyone else in there is also writing. And it definitely makes you feel like the odds are against you. But if a coffee shop is where you get the most work done in the least amount time then why not take advantage of it?

Hell, if you need a break, you can people watch. You never know, you might just see a character for your next screenplay.

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