The writer’s cabin is a myth.

Every writer secretly believes in the writer’s cabin.

In our heads we see a small isolated cabin in a quiet patch of woods. There’s a porch with a swing out front. We sit on that when we need a break from all the amazing words we’ve written inside. There’s not much behind that cabin door, just a humble table like Hemingway probably used, a chair our grandfather made by hand and some sort of way to gather our words.

For some, it’s a stack of fresh, white paper and a favorite pen. Others see a typewriter that makes real clickity clack sounds with each brilliant word you capture.

The days pile up as the pages do too and we emerge from this literary sabbatical with a book and a beard. (Unless you’re a lady, the beard is not nearly as cool in your story.)

I thought that would be my life when I became a full time writer.

I assumed I was about to be ushered into a secret club of cabin writers.

I’m here to tell you, as the author of five books, including a new one called Do Over that you should order in bulk, the writer’s cabin is a myth.

It’s a fantasy that if you’re not careful will actually prevent you from hustling on your dream.

What happens is that you dream so much and so hard about that writer’s cabin that you start to believe it holds the key to your best work. You get up in the morning in your very non cabin house, the one with bills and responsibilities and stolen snatches of minutes instead of long writing stretches and you feel like you can’t possibly write there.

Someday, with the cabin, you will create a book, but your life is simply too ordinary to create an extraordinary work.

That is a lie.

Screw the writer’s cabin.

Write wherever you are.

Write in your car during your lunch break at work.

Write while you wait for your kids to finish gymnastics.

Write in any moment you can steal back from an already busy life.

I wrote my first book in a Burger King. It could not have been less cabin like.

Every dream has a “writer’s cabin,” some set of circumstances we think will magically unlock our ability to do something.

Don’t fall for it. It’s a myth.

The best place to do your work is wherever you are right now.

 

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30 Comments
  • Cherie
    Posted at 06:18h, 28 January Reply

    Writing a book made my eye twitch for a month. It was UGLY. But worth it.

  • David Mike
    Posted at 06:20h, 28 January Reply

    My writer’s cabin! https://www.facebook.com/dilemmamikeblog/photos/pb.642722862428110.-2207520000.1422447487./896689550364772/?type=3&theater

    This is where I do most of my writing. I struggle to write anywhere else because I am so easily distracted. Squirrel…

  • Michelle
    Posted at 06:33h, 28 January Reply

    Oh how I needed to hear that this morning. I’ve been waiting for the perfect circumstances to begin writing, but they just fell through. Now I am working on a corner I will call my prayer and writing nook. No more writers cabin for me!

  • Leo
    Posted at 06:50h, 28 January Reply

    Thanks for the posting! My fantasy “cabin” has always been the third or fourth floor tower of a Victorian house. The room would have windows on all four sides with the following views: the sea, a mountain, a brick built college campus, and an oft used playground. My reality looked more akin to the hard plastic seat alongside the picture window of McDonald’s…at least the reality had free refills!

  • Steve Tessler
    Posted at 07:00h, 28 January Reply

    For my first book that I am blogging now was written at my kitchen table.

    I wish I had a cabin!!

  • Daniel Decker
    Posted at 07:16h, 28 January Reply

    So good and so true. If you want it bad enough, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse. The cabin is an excuse. The busy life is an excuse. Fighting fast the excuses might not be easy but it’s often worth it.

  • Danielle
    Posted at 08:13h, 28 January Reply

    *Starts writing from toilet seat*

  • Jackie Lea Sommers
    Posted at 08:17h, 28 January Reply

    I’ll be honest though, Jon: while I can write anywhere (and do), I quadruple my productivity when I rent a condo “up north” for a week. That’s why I do it 3-4 times a year. I completely agree with what you’re saying– that we can’t *wait* for that writer’s cabin to get started– but it’s definitely not a myth for me that it sure does help!

  • Angela Ford
    Posted at 08:28h, 28 January Reply

    Sad to hear but true, I’m a firm believer in the “writer’s cabin” but when I took a 7 day vacation to go to my “writer’s cabin” and complete my novel, I ended up perfecting my photography skills instead of writing. Now, it’s the everyday goals that matter, 30 minutes, every single day. 50,000 words later I’d say it’s working out!

    • kangopie
      Posted at 22:10h, 07 February Reply

      30 min a day can do that? Now I’m definitely inspired @angela

  • vicki
    Posted at 08:51h, 28 January Reply

    Dang…. I was really hoping for that!!!!!

  • Kari
    Posted at 09:02h, 28 January Reply

    thanks for this kick in the butt. My goal today, figure out my writer’s cabin and spend 30 minutes there–actually writing!

  • Catalyst John
    Posted at 09:23h, 28 January Reply

    Today’s post is one of my favorites. It spoke to me. Thanks!

  • Ken Zimmerman Jr.
    Posted at 09:55h, 28 January Reply

    Jon, I like your point. You don’t need a cabin or any other mystical place to write. I just completed my first e-book for this year and my tenth overall. I did not write any of them in a cabin. I have a confession though. I am building a writer’s cabin one day. Take care.

  • Jean
    Posted at 10:19h, 28 January Reply

    Spot on! This is so true. I have hung onto the cabin in the woods mentality so many times in my life and it has done nothing but keep me from forward motion.
    Thank you Jon for shedding light and giving encouragment with a sense of humor!

  • Krithika Rangarajan
    Posted at 10:26h, 28 January Reply

    EESH – stop ruining my fantasies! 😛

    hehe – I am not sure about a cabin, but a beachfront house in Marco Island definitely has my name on it 😉

    In all seriousness, thank you for dashing our delusions and dumping us back into this real, boring, mundane world where miracles happen *grinning*

    You ROCK

    Kitto

  • Tom McGreevy
    Posted at 12:10h, 28 January Reply

    Thanks for saving us from the delusion. Its just so hard to commit to a project that you’re not sure will deliver. The cabin is nice because at least you are at peace and enjoying the process. The project doesn’t need to deliver. No risk, no reward, huh?

  • Jersey fans
    Posted at 13:39h, 28 January Reply

    I’ve truly attempted to employ, nevertheless it won’t is effective at all.

  • Linda
    Posted at 18:00h, 28 January Reply

    I LIVE in the writer’s cabin! Porch swing, stone fireplace, woods, and even a pond that I can stare at. Blessed? Yes!! Write? No! You nailed it–the house holds no special inspiration, and no more, or less, gets accomplished there than anywhere else.. But if anyone still believes the myth, I might know of a writer’s cabin for rent.

  • Greer
    Posted at 23:49h, 28 January Reply

    Awesome blog. I wonder though, now that you’re a legit writer with several books under your belt, will you one day get yourself a real writer’s cabin?

  • KC
    Posted at 00:34h, 29 January Reply

    I know you’re right, but was secretly hoping the cabin was real. With 3 kids and as many jobs some solitude sounds like a little slice of heaven.

    However, the reality of it is that in order to move things forward I need to exercise discipline and take advantage of the opportunity to write/work wherever I am.

    Thanks again, Jon. Keep up the good work.

  • Pat Lange
    Posted at 10:55h, 29 January Reply

    Wonderful post Jon! I recently read On Writing by Stephen King, and much to my delight found that during the early years in addition to writing stories on the front porch of their rented house he’d also write in the laundry room of their rented trailer. Who’d a thunk.

  • Mary Carver
    Posted at 13:39h, 29 January Reply

    I definitely agree with what you’re saying here, but I had to laugh because just last weekend I “hid” in a hotel for 3 days to work on my book. It was extremely helpful and productive time, but it was certainly not the glamorous “writing cabin” we all dream of. I wrote about that on my blog (http://www.givinguponperfect.com/2015/01/the-glamorous-life/) – but perhaps I need to follow up with a post about how I’m getting the rest of my book done where I am, in the margin of normal life.

  • Caleb
    Posted at 15:21h, 29 January Reply

    Even those that enter the writers cabin often don’t come out with any work done. A good friend of mine, aspiring author, spent a whole Summer in a cabin in the mountains, he emerged with an unfinished book, and now I’m on the verge of beating him to releasing my own book, and I’ve done it on the side over the past 6 weeks.

  • Marcus Smith
    Posted at 08:55h, 30 January Reply

    I sometimes think that one day I will get to go to a cabin and play drums all day, every day for a month. What I’m reading here is that I should just set my drums up in my office at work and rock out right here where I am. I’m doing it.

  • Ben
    Posted at 03:05h, 02 February Reply

    This is so insightful. I often find myself delaying things, like studying, because it’s not the perfect environment. I feel like I need a ‘full half-hour’ in order to get into it. But to utilize each minute is such great advice. Thank you!

  • Seth
    Posted at 13:44h, 06 February Reply

    Dude. I can see my cabin in the blank space above the body of the text. Reading the title was a kick in the stomach.
    Thanks.

  • Steve McCoy
    Posted at 19:37h, 09 February Reply

    New romantic notion – The Writer’s Lunchcar

  • Larry
    Posted at 01:45h, 14 February Reply

    That was awesome…made me laugh and think. I’m a lot like that. Usually waiting, hoping, dreaming of just the perfect set of circumstances to make everything work out. Every day I’m finding out the truth that today, right now is the place to live out my dream.

  • Kelly
    Posted at 09:09h, 13 April Reply

    Wait. No. This is a thing? It’s not just me?

    My cabin in the woods, typewriter, notebooks. My seat in a coffee shop, laptop, headphones.

    Juxtaposed with the noise of a job, four kids, a house to clean, bills to pay.

    How are you able to get into my head and expose my dark dreams to the light?

    Curse you for making me look reality in the face.

    Thank you for making me feel not quite so alone.

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