Writers and Libraries: A Match Made in Literary Heaven

Top Quote In honor of Library Lovers Month, author Nancy Christie provides tips for writers in need of a writing home-away-from-home. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) February 12, 2018 - AUSTINTOWN, OH - To be productive, writers need three things: time, space and freedom from interruption. But even if you are able to carve out a few hours a day to focus on your literary projects, all too often finding a place to do it and the solitude in which to explore your creativity can be challenging.

    Not to worry—Nancy Christie, author of Rut-Busting Book for Writers and herself a full-time writer, offers a solution: pack up your writing tools and head to the nearest library.

    “Libraries are the perfect solution for those who need a place to write that is quiet and free of disruption,” said Christie. “Not to mention that it’s easy on the budget: no payment for the space and no need to purchase something to justify your presence!”

    But before you head out to your nearest branch, Christie has three recommendations to ensure you make the most of your library-based writing time.

    Research your options.

    Libraries offer a wide range of amenities for writers from tables in the main section to individual rooms for maximum privacy. While some are available on a first-come-first-served basis, others have spaces that must be booked in advance or are restricted to those meeting specific work requirements.

    Call ahead to learn whether reservations are required, if you’ll need a library card to access any holdings and what hours the library is open. “There’s nothing worse than being all geared up to write only to arrive at the library to find out it’s closing in fifteen minutes,” said Christie.
    Plan for productivity.

    When time is of the essence, don’t waste one minute of it hunting for a power cord, your notes or other writerly must-haves. “If this is going to be regular event, keep a roller bag or backpack ready with everything you’re going to need for your writing time, from pens and paper to any files related to the project at hand,” advised Christie.

    To help create the feeling of a private space when you’re working in a public area, Christie shares some tips from California-based interior designer Cristina Acosta, who contributed to the “Creating Your Writing Space” chapter in Rut-Busting Book for Writers. These include bringing a few items to mark your area as your writing space, such as a mug to hold your pens or a placemat in a color that also inspires your creativity. According to Acosta, they can serve not only as a demarcation but also as part of the writing ritual, physically and psychologically identifying this as your writing time.

    While libraries are relatively quiet, some writers are still affected by whispered conversations or other noises. For those cases, wear a headset to block them out, said Christie. Need help creating the mood for a piece you’re working on? Use online sound apps, such as those available at MyNoise.net. As Stéphane Pigeon, PhD, who runs the site, explained in Christie’s book, “Such noises are more effective that one thinks at first glance. The goal is to have your brain forget about them and create the illusion of silence round you. By reducing the distractions, you increase focus and reduce procrastination.”

    Maximize your visit.

    Part of writing is researching, and while some writers prefer doing their research at home via the internet, “the web can also be a source of endless and alluring rabbit holes,” said Christie. “You start out looking up climate facts for a piece on an obscure West Indian location and end up downloading recipes for Vindaloo vinegar marinade and Parsi Dhan Sak.”

    Conducting research at the library not only keeps you focused on the subject but also offers assistance from trained reference librarians, “ideal for those times when you know what you want but aren’t sure how to find it,” said Christie. “Libraries have extensive databases for general or historical research and also offer the option to request interlibrary loans of materials not available through your local library system.”

    With many libraries hosting visiting authors and sponsoring workshops, writers can find their sense of isolation offset by the opportunity to interact with others at all levels in the literary world. Additionally, libraries can be the perfect home for writers groups, something Christie can attest to, since the group she started, Monday Night Writers, now meets regularly at the Canfield branch of the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County.

    “We originally tried meeting at restaurants but that just didn’t give us the privacy we needed,” she explained. “But at the library, we have a room to ourselves with plenty of tables and chairs where we can read our work aloud and get feedback. It’s the ideal venue and all that’s needed is advance reservation—no fee required.”

    Finally, for those days when literary inspiration is stuck in neutral, being surrounded by the output of so many other authors and writers is itself encouraging, said Christie. “Writing in a place devoted to literature and the arts can be just the jumpstart you need to get your creativity engine started again.”

    About Nancy Christie
    Nancy Christie is the author of Rut-Busting Book for Writers (Mill City Press), Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories (Pixel Hall Press) and The Gifts of Change (Atria/Beyond Words). Her short stories and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications.

    A professional writer based in Ohio, Christie provides copywriting services to agencies, businesses and organizations nationwide through her company, Professional Writing Services. The founder of the annual “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, she also teaches writing workshops at conferences, libraries and schools.

    For more information, visit her website at www.nancychristie.com.

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