Writing Outdoors

By Mark Alpert

Now that summer is here in full force, I’ve started taking my laptop to Central Park and writing outdoors.

This would be a frustrating endeavor in most parts of the park, which is usually packed with tourists on even the hottest days, but I live near the entrance to the Ramble, an area that’s been left in a more natural state than the Great Lawn or the Sheep Meadow. The Ramble is laced with a confusing tangle of crisscrossing pathways, so most of the tourists avoid the area. (They seem deathly afraid of getting lost.)

In particular, I head for the bird-feeders. They’re in a spot that’s especially hard to find, even for someone like me who’s been visiting the park for 50 years. As you can see from the above photo, the bird-feeders are empty of seed right now; I think the conservancy fills them only during the migration seasons, when the birds are famished. But a lot of species stop by anyway, maybe out of sheer undying hope.

Which, coincidentally, is also what you need to write fiction.

What about you? What are your favorite outdoor writing locations?

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About Mark Alpert

Contributing editor at Scientific American and author of science thrillers: Final Theory (2008), The Omega Theory (2011), Extinction (2013), The Furies (2014), The Six (2015), The Orion Plan (2016), The Siege (2016), and The Silence (2017). His latest thriller, The Coming Storm (St. Martin's Press, 2019), is a cautionary tale about climate change, genetic engineering, and Donald Trump. His website: www.markalpert.com

10 thoughts on “Writing Outdoors

  1. My front yard isn’t as large or visited as yours 😀 …but I like working on the front porch of little our ca. 1830 farmhouse, whjch has been in my bride’s family since it was buikt, and even in the heat and humidity of July in Jaw-juh… Sometimes with the laptop, sometimes with pen-n-paper… Birdsong, cicadas, ancient oaks and pines for shade…
    There’s also a brick “patio” that is peacefully inviting and inspiring once the sun sets and the blue hour comes on – despite the mosquitoes…
    I would say some of my best work comes from these spots, but they don’t make it seem like work…

  2. I do most of my writing at my bistro table in my garden. I always find it easy to write out there. Back home, it’s on the pier by our old house overlooking Mobile Bay.

  3. Two outdoor spots… Side porch in the morning, where my little dachshund friend, Pennie, joins me, and in the afternoon or evening, front porch, where my quaint little New Jersey river town has just enough sounds and sights to keep the creative juices flowing, but not so many that it becomes a distraction.

  4. I live in the South so outside writing isn’t something to do most of the year. I have a sunroom/greenhouse attached to my house, though, for my Mom’s plants and as a heat source during cold weather so I can plant myself out there in the nicest of weather in the fall and winter.

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