Space and Time: the right writing environment


If you’ve clicked onto this expecting a sci-fi related post, apologies. I don’t mean that kind of space and time. This post is all finding the right place in which to right.

The ‘right’ place is clearly not universal for all writers. Daphne du Maurier famously did lots of her writing in a hut at the bottom of the garden, and Roald Dahl also had a writing hut which has now been reconstructed at The Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire. Huts look really cute when you peer inside, and all it sounds very romantic, but unless they’re well insulated, they’re blooming cold in the winter, roasting hot in the summer, and full of insects and damp. Granted, there are huts and huts (a well built chalet-style construction is probably fab to work in, but your average garden shed, not so much), and a hut is better than nothing – especially if it’s the only place you can get peace and privacy.

Which brings me to the next sort of writer – the sort which likes to work in a café. I know this is pretty popular – possibly because this was the method so famously (and successfully) employed by J K Rowling in her early days. Since there is long history of creative-types scribbling away in coffee shops, I’m not disputing that it must work for many writers, but it wouldn’t do for me. Supporters of this method maintain that the hum of background noise helps them concentrate, or that they need to physically go somewhere in order to write, because sitting at home they’ll just get distracted. For me, nothing could be further from the truth. The thought of sitting, exposed, at a table in a busy café, with people all around me, squeezing by with their shopping bags, babies crying, clattering crockery and all that whooshing and wheezing from the barista coffee machines… Ugh, just the thought makes me shudder! Don’t get me wrong, I like the odd trip to a coffee shop while I’m out shopping, but it definitely wouldn’t work for me in a creative way. Or at least, not unless I was in one of those (infrequent) mad frenzies when you just can’t stop writing – and if that was the case, the location wouldn’t make any difference. (I’ve written standing up in a packed train carriage when I’ve absolutely had to get something down on paper.)

I’ve already written about my writing room here (am amused to note how tidy it was back then for the photographs – suffice to say it is rather less so as I write this). From this you’ll know how much I value having the luxury of a proper space in which to write. And having a comfortable working environment does help with productivity. (Father Christmas even brought me a new writing chair so I’m properly comfortable when I write – I can tell this is the case as I no longer fidget when writing for several hours!)

Of course, there’s no point having the space, if you don’t also have the time. In order to achieve any of my 2018 goals, I’ve been concentrating on making the time. This has meant religiously ‘going to my room’ every weekday evening, and getting on with writing for an hour or two (from Mon-Thurs – I’ve been giving myself Friday night off!), and trying to get a bit more in at the weekend if I’m not up to my planned word count, or if I have another project I want to work on. So far, using routine and discipline to create this habit is working well (rather like a less intensive Nanowrimo approach). I’ll let you know if I keep it up long enough to complete the current project.

Actually, going back to the sci-fi thing, a writing room is a little like the TARDIS. It’s clearly only the size of a room, but once inside, as you write, it expands in limitless directions and you can travel anywhere in space and time – to the far reaches of your imagination. If I was a Doctor Who fan, this is what the door to my writing room would look like:

If you have an amazing writing space, or have a great tip for manufacturing that precious commodity, time, then please tell us about it in the comments below. 😉


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