Sunday, 27 October 2013

The Best Writing Places and Spaces

I write at home, in my study (spare box room). This is new to me, as for the past five years, I wrote in the back bedroom, amongst my books, with a view out into the back garden, and out over the fences to the world beyond. It was often fairly distracting, that view, and it's not even a particularly nice one. Still, I was used to it, and was comfortable there. I wrote around 1.5 million words from that room, from my corner desk with the nice/nasty view.

Then everything changed. My daughter turned three. And with that came the move - she had been in the nursery (spare box room) since she was born, but now that she definitely need a big girl's bed, and there was certainly no space for it in the smaller room, we needed to change things around. So she got the old back bedroom, and I got the small front one.

I'll admit, I was worried. I often have a hard time writing in unfamiliar places and spaces. I know other writers who really don't have a problem with it - they get their laptop or notepad out wherever and whenever they are able to, and jot down a few thousand words. But I'm not great at that. I like to be comfortable and settled before I can zone out into my writing world.

I felt slightly better in the fact that I am able to write many thousands of words when I go on my annual writing retreat at Retreats for You in Devon. That was a different room, with a different view, and I got on fabulously there, so perhaps... Perhaps this move wouldn't be so difficult after all.

But still I worried. What if I did lose my spark? What if it was all down to that desk in that place in that room? Was that where the magic came from? Was I just being completely ridiculous?

The day came, and we swapped rooms. Tired, aching from moving furniture, I had to get everything set up exactly as I liked it, even if the angles were different, and the walls were yellow instead of magnolia and the view was of the house opposite and not of the garden. I had a deadline to meet.

And I met it. And the next one. And the next one too, and I was writing fiction, and articles and blog posts (for other people, sorry Moonlit Door!). I wasn't just writing like before - I was writing more than before! Whatever had happened, whether this new room was where the magic really was, whether the new view was less distracting, or whether I had mentally made myself get on with it and get creative, it was working.

I decided it was time to branch out. I've often heard that other writers like to visit coffee shops or cafes, to spend a little time with themselves and their work with no distractions. So yesterday I tried that. I went to Barton's Point Coastal Park, which is a beautiful spot about 10 minutes down the road from my house. The cafe there overlooks a gorgeous lake with swans that glide across it, and people doing water sports. There is a crackling fire, continuous coffee, and simply delicious food. I was there for the day - six hours in total.

Did I manage to write anything? Well, that chapter 8 of the spy novel I'm writing has been bugging me for a while. It's a tricky one, in which the hero discovers a huge secret about his father, and that in turn sets him off on the main adventure of the book.

I'd been putting it off for a while.

But by the end of my time at Barton's Point, it was finished. Not only that, but I had hand written the whole lot, in an old notebook. I hadn't taken my laptop as I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to plug it in or not (and the battery isn't great). I'm fairly slow at handwriting, so I was even more pleased with the result because of that! Plus, as an added little bonus, a plot point that had been niggling away at me finally resolved itself. I'm wondering now whether this book has the potential be actually be pretty good. I'll certainly head back to Barton's Point very soon to see what else I can create while I'm there!