Where I Write: Any table, any chair
There's always a danger of becoming too particular about, well, everything to do with writing. It's easy to start wrapping yourself up in all sorts of superstitions and convincing yourself that if you don't abide by the rules, you'll never be able to write anything decent. I say 'you'. You know I mean 'I'.
It's easy to start wrapping yourself up in all sorts of superstitions and convincing yourself that if you don't abide by the rules, you'll never be able to write anything decent
I already have a favourite brand of pen and a preferred make of notebooks, the last thing I need is another way to put myself off writing. I can just see myself saying 'Oh no, no good. The best table at the library is taken and the only seat in the café is next to wailing weans. Never mind, I can always write something tomorrow.' I would do it, too, and I'm not the only one. Any excuse.
Instead, to avoid getting too attached to any one place, I take inspiration from a slightly rigged version Eleanor Farjeon's 19th century poem Cats. Replace the first (and last) lines so that instead of 'Cats sleep anywhere' you have 'Writers write anywhere' and there you go:
Writers write, anywhere,
Any table, any chair
Top of piano, window-ledge,
In the middle, on the edge…
Ok, so maybe anywhere is a bit of a stretch. There are some places that aren't ideal. It's a little rude to start scribbling when you’re at someone else's book reading, for example. A touch inconvenient to whip out a pen when you're in the dentist's chair. I accept there are exceptions. I stand by the philosophy, though.
I have a lovely desk space at home that has been described as 'a glorified shelf' thanks to the fact it's invariably covered in so much stuff there's no space to actually sit at it. All my local cafés know what kind of coffee I drink and, ok yes, I do have a favourite table at the library. But I don't feel like my day has been jinxed if someone else is sitting at it.
Recently, I also decided to rent desk space in a small office. I took the plunge largely for work (I write web copy as well as fiction) and it's been great for guilting me into getting on with things – something much easier to ignore when at home on the sofa – although the space is considerably less inspiring than everywhere else I frequent.
I try to keep an open mind and work wherever I can
I also try and take a few days away every three months or so where I hire a hotel room and write sitting on clean white sheets. There's also a view, if I'm lucky. I find these mini retreats (normally about £100) great for getting to grips with a big project, which tends to scatter and fragment when it's squeezed in around life in general.
Mostly, though, I try to keep an open mind and work wherever I can. On trains, in other people's living rooms, in the kitchen – it doesn't matter, as long as I remind myself:
…Anywhere! They don't care!
Writers write anywhere.