Where do I write?

For those who know me and where I live, the question is often asked about how I manage to find space to write and avoid the obvious distractions of family life! We live in a modest sized 3 bed semi-detached house with 2 school age children and the whirlwind that comes with that! In an ideal world I’d love to have a writing shed – somewhere in the garden that I can physically retreat to, in order to have my own space, make my own mess and be away from the distractions that come with ‘working from home’! It doesn’t need to have much – a desk, a comfy chair, lots of book shelf space, lighting and heating. And windows – lots of them! But in reality, writing space can, I guess be anywhere, I mean JK Rowling famously wrote much of the Harry Potter series in a cafe down the road from her flat.

This would be lovely!

This would be lovely!

My biggest distraction is actually the internet, so I’m umming and ahhing about whether I’d want the wi-fi to reach… oh of course it should, what am I on about!

This would be AWESOME!!

This would be AWESOME!!

I used to have a study…once upon a time… BC.. (before children), but that room then became the nursery and is now child No2’s bedroom! Now my work space is a small desk in the corner of the dining room, which at times resembles anything but a dining room, especially when the children are also doing their homework and the Hub is catching up with his own business admin. In a previous life writing was reserved for late evenings on weekends, when the children had gone to bed, so as not to disturb family time or impact on what was then the ‘day job’. Now however, my daily routine has changed somewhat and I have peace and solitude between the hours of 9.15 and 12.45 and 1.45 and 3.30. I try to catch up with Twitter and Facebook first thing, check the news websites, check the weather forecast and then write for an hour or so. Then the idea is get another hour done in the afternoon. BUT… having been engrossed in full-time teaching for 18+ years, I have found that my best planned routine has been inconsistently applied thus far and I have enjoyed catching up with old friends, making new ones, drinking tea (decaf!) a plenty and searching for jobs which will keep the baying wolves from the door, when the time comes! This week, I have set myself a much more disciplined routine, though. Honeymoon is over and serious work time means a quick social media catch up between 7.30 and 8.30, whilst getting the breakfast and packing the children off to school and then the serious stuff starts. Writing from 9.00 until approx 1.00pm, when the Hub pops home for lunch. The afternoon, I intend to use for either: more writing (if the ideas are flowing), draft revision and/or research. Does it work… watch this space!

It did get me thinking about some of my current favourite authors and fellows aspiring writers and where they work. So I set off on a quest to find out where they work and what distracts them. I was surprised to find that routines and distractions are familiar – here are some of the answers I got back:

Ben Adams

Is there a good time of day for writing, for you?

I wrote my first novel, Six Months to Get a Life, while I was working full-time. I tended to get up early and sneak a couple of hours in before work. But I loved writing fiction so much that fitting it around work became deeply unsatisfying, so I handed in my notice and am now a full-time author.

In the three weeks that I have been a professional author, I have tended to start writing as soon as I have managed to pack the kids off to school. Mornings seem to be the most productive time of day for me, but I am still experimenting with my routine.

Do you write in the same physical space (study, dining table, cafe etc.) each time?

I wanted to write in my upstairs spare bedroom because the window there looks out over the garden. Unfortunately the desk I bought wouldn’t fit up the stairs so I am currently writing in a downstairs room with a less inspiring view of the front drive and the road.

I like to move about a bit, so when I’m planning, I tend to take a pen and paper into the garden. The coffee shop thing is something I am intending to try at some point, having blogged about it.

How long do you write for at each sitting?

How long’s a piece of string? Over the past few weeks I have tended to write pretty solidly for about 3 hours in the mornings, with only the odd break to make a coffee. Afternoon and evening stints have tended to be shorter.

What are the main distractions for you and how do you try to overcome them?

My German Shepherd, Albus, can be a pain in the backside when I’m in full writing flow. He plonked a rugby ball onto my laptop the other day. How do I overcome the distraction? I gave him away on twitter the other day. Seriously, taking him for a walk helps me clear my head after a writing session. We all need a few distractions in life.

Ben is the author of Six Months to Get a Life

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Rob Sinclair

Is there a good time of day for writing, for you?

I tend to do my best work from early morning until around lunchtime. I just find that’s when my brain is most active and when I have least distraction. I find it hard to keep the morning’s momentum going through the whole day though and rarely do any real writing in the evenings – although I do usually work until 9pm, 10pm most week nights doing other work related to my writing whether it be social media or writing blogs, interviews etc. Certainly for my first book, Dance with the Enemy, I was still working full-time so most of my writing was before and after work which really stretched out already busy days.

Do you write in the same physical space (study, dining table, cafe etc..) each time?

My favourite place to write is on the sofa in my lounge with my laptop. It’s comfy and I have a nice view of the garden though my physio complains to me that it’s one of the reasons I get a sore back! Occasionally I write at a desk, and I’ve been known to write in hotels on trains, planes and ferries, just about anywhere really.  Of all the places I’ve written, nothing quite beats my sofa, though!

How long do you write for at each sitting?

It varies wildly as depends on my mood and whether I’m having a good day! But if I get off to a good start at say 8am, after I’ve shipped the kids out the house, I can crack through to around midday sometimes with very little break – so a solid 3-4 hours with maybe 5 mins here and there to make a coffee. Once I’m in the zone I can really get stuck into it, though inevitably once I’ve broken off for an extended break at lunch I find it quite hard to get fully back into again. I think writing is very all consuming and a morning of solid writing (in which I can do as much as 5,000 words) really zaps my brain’s energy. I tend to then spend the afternoon revising and reading through my drafting.

What are the main distractions for you and how do you try to overcome them?

Life is the main distraction! With two jobs (I work part-time as a fraud investigator as well as writing) and two kids it’s very hard to really eek out a lot of time for writing, even on my “days off”. I have so many other commitments beside writing too, mostly around promoting and marketing my work, which further erodes the available writing time. The internet is a huge distraction too. I have to be very strict with myself in terms of putting my phone down and forcing myself to not check twitter and Facebook every 5 minutes which is a really bad habit I have! But the distractions are invariably worse some days than others. On the really good days, I don’t get distracted at all – I just blast through, fingers typing away furiously, and get to the end of the day entirely satisfied with what I’ve done. Those are the days that every writer lives for.

Rob’s latest book is Rise of the Enemy

Rise of the Enemy

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My greatest distractions are my own eagerness to record and note take, and the demon that is the internet! I have so many ideas milling about that I have taken to a process which sees me writing notes in one book (a lovely purple one, in which I use my favourite Parker pen – black ink, of course!) and then it’s story development goes in another book. I’ve had to limit this to working on one story at a time. The trouble with the internet is that it really is at my fingers tips, on every device, so I have had to try to resist the urge to keep checking FB and Twitter, which is easier said than done. But now, when I’m in writing mode, I don’t log in – I just use Word and write, write, write…!

It was lovely to hook up with other writers – a network which is developing all the time and while the internet seems to be a big distraction for many of us, if I didn’t use social media, I wouldn’t have come across either Rob or Ben – with whom I have more in common than I thought… so every cloud, eh?!

Well, that’s all for now folks! Back to the new routine and let’s see how we go… words are flowing and draft 1 is very near completion!

MJ xx

3 thoughts on “Where do I write?

  1. Ben Adams

    Reblogged this on The Best Debut Novel I have Ever Written and commented:
    This excellent blog gives a great insight into a few eminent authors’ writing habits. It mentions me too! I am currently reading Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, a gift from my work colleagues when I left my job. It would seem that Stephen and the authors featured here share a love for writing in the mornings…

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  2. Lynne

    Sounds like a good plan but don’t forget to leave enough time for catching up with friends. All work and no play etc. On that note, when are you free to catch up 😉 x

    Like

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