Annabel Smith: “I wrote in public places mostly to overcome the isolation of spending all day every day alone at home…”
Amanda Curtin: “The only rush hour traffic I ever encounter on the way there is a few sleepy doves…”
Sara Foster: “I can’t access my preferred brain food – hot chocolate and/or cake – so readily from my study, hence the local cafes all know me well…”
Natasha Lester: “How can I not aspire to greatness when I have Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and Margaret Atwood sitting just within reach?”
Dawn Barker: “At the moment, there’s a fairy doll and several crayons on my desk…”
This is an interesting question for me at the moment. I am currently packing up my house for a big move from Perth to Jakarta. All our accumulated junk from the last four years has been either binned, op-shopped, or packed away. The only items of furniture I haven’t yet consigned to Gumtree are my bed, my desk and my printer.
These three items have qualified as essential to my everyday life. So, my desk in my small office is where I write. As you can see, I have few distractions (apart from the wine). I did have a notice board pinned with photographs for each section of my new novel but it got consigned to the bin (the photos didn’t). You can see the noise-cancelling headphones there, in case I need to block out any outside noise. Sometimes I listen to classical music.
I have a quote from Hilary Mantel pinned above my desk which reads:
“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just sit there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
This reminds me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Sometimes, the words aren’t there, and the reason is usually that I’m not ready to write them. I need to do more research, to look at that particular part of the book again and ask why it isn’t moving forward. Maybe my subconscious hasn’t finished with it yet.
Sitting at the same desk all day can make me go a bit crazy. If I feel like that, I take a walk around Lake Monger, or sit on our small terrace and read an unrelated novel. I also like to work in cafes in my local area, just to get me out and about. Baking with music on really loud also helps me to get back in the zone.
If I want a big change, sometimes I’ll go to the State Library to do some research. I cycle there, and that is another thing that gets my mind working. I had the breakthrough moment for How To Be A Good Wife while I was on my bike. I’ll spend the day at the library and I feel like a student again: for some reason it makes me feel more productive.
I mentioned my bed before as another essential item of furniture. Funnily enough, I probably do work there too. Sometimes it is only when you stop thinking about a problem that it solves itself. Hence why so many people keep a notebook by the side of the bed. My friend Rebecca Wait, who is also a writer, likes to tell her friends she is hard at work even while she is at the pub with them (see Writing Tip for Self #2 here). This is a sentiment I heartedly agree with: let your subconscious do the work and take the day off.
Where do you write? Always the same place, or do you mix it up? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.
Here’s how my writerly friends answered the question…