Disco Balls & Pencils

Writing as a dinner party

Zayn Patel


Writing is a lively dinner party; tidy guests, developed invitations sent out weeks in advance, ironed dress shirts and matching ties, live music, a brown, reflective, waxed dance floor, and a ‘blown-up’ phone post-party with pictures and thank you messages.

Writing, like the dinner party, has stages. The aggregate experience of those stages is a timeless memory that is vividly remembered; it is like our minds have HD video players.

The first stage of writing and the lively dinner party is finding a location.

I am standing next to my wooden Babson-issued desk. Computer on my bed. Dimmed lights. Adjacent to me is a life wtr bottle with art from the no sesso collective. This room is my writing location.

I prefer rooms with no windows when writing time or any deep state work time. My peripheral vision is naughty and abruptly moves whenever an external object moves. The lack of windows helps me stay disciplined.

My phone, silent, has a timer of 90 minutes, another intentional disciplinary act. My brain is complacent without pressure. Too much time equals an expansion of work to meet the infinite time set.

I have learned through trial and error that 90 min is the optimal time for transforming distilled thoughts into writing.

Like the dinner party, I surveyed multiple locations before arriving at this one. The world, sometimes, personifies itself and whispers in your ear when you have found a match.

I have been curious if the location of the writing spot matters more than its utility. Should I be sitting near an ocean or a park? Is there more inspiration in those places vs. a dark, minimalistic room? In other ways, you can let your imagination create an illusionary location. My writing spot at Babson is like an escape room. I enter, and I am forbidden from exiting until the puzzle is complete.

The puzzle in writing is looking at the global corpus that exists and asking yourself how each word fits into the desired end state.

Hmm. In other ways, writing is less like an escape room and more like a debate between words. Each word petitions its case for deserving space on the writer’s page. Alternatively, the inverse, they debate which words do not belong on the page.



Zayn Patel

Working on space technology and policy, improving government with data science, and launching a cubesat mission.