This post first appeared in Katherine Vick's blog.
A friend asked me lately – what’s the perfect place to write? And I found that an interesting question. It certainly isn’t one that any two people are likely to give the same answer to. Everyone has their own preferences and their own ideals – as is typical with life, everyone is different. For example, ignoring for a moment current world circumstances, I can’t imagine writing in a busy coffee shop. I would imagine most of us have seen – or indeed, some of you may have been – that person sat in the corner on the big, comfy leather chair with the laptop and the rapidly cooling cappuccino, beavering away at the keyboard to create their latest epic. And it seems to have worked for J.K. Rowling.
But I know it wouldn’t work for me as I am, quite simply, too easily distracted. Every noise, every hiss of steam, every bubble of laughter, slam of the door, clink of the cup – I’d be looking up, looking over, looking around, and distraction for me, when I write, is fatal. It jolts my mind out of the concentrated state of the place and character I am trying to create and once my mind wanders off, it’s very hard to drag the blighter back to what it is supposed to be concentrating on. I can’t even write with music on, at least not music with words, as I just end up listening/singing along to the song rather than what I am supposed to be doing. My brain takes a perverse delight in finding ways to inhibit my focus.
That is the reason that public spaces in general wouldn’t suit me. Even my local library, much as I enjoy spending lunch hours there quietly reading a book, isn’t a place I could write in. There are too many crying children, too many people on phones, too many tapping computers and whirring printers, too many Job Centre interviews and general back-and-forth in there. Libraries are no longer places of silence. And so distractions abound.
Now, I do love to imagine myself writing in the great outdoors. I love being in beautiful places and spending time soaking them up, and surely that would be a fine time to stretch one’s writing muscles? Seated by a shining lake with a backdrop of rolling hills perhaps or a peaceful, sandy beach with the sea lapping at my toes or a lonely mountainside with a stunning panorama – all of those are places where I am happy and relaxed and surely the words would flow. But the trouble is, much as I love this idea in my heart, my head is quick to point out the realities of wind and weather – notebooks tugged by breezes and laptops soaked by rain, the uncomfortable positions I would almost certainly have to adopt to practically work there, and, of course, the view. I know me. I’d be looking at the prettiness rather than concentrating on what I was supposed to be doing. Rather than writing in such places, I’d prefer to just be in them.
So where does that leave me? I’ve often wondered, if life and money were no object, the kind of writing space I would create for myself. I picture a Hogwarts-esque book-lined study most often, with a big picture window and stunning view, replica swords hanging over the roaring fireplace and a huge, wooden desk and large, cosy chair. I even know the location of the house I’d like to put it in. But...I’m not rich. Unless you, dear readers, all suddenly go out on mad The Disposable spending sprees, I’m unlikely to ever be either. So I know in my heart, I’m not likely to ever get much beyond my current writing space – a dinky converted spare bedroom, piled high with books and camping equipment and with a view of trees out of the window.
And you know what? It works for me. I can concentrate here – as long as my neighbours keep it down – or gaze out the window at the swaying trees when inspiration fails me and I’m trying to scoop it back. I can reach the thesaurus. It’s not far to the loo. I have biscuits. All is well.
So I suppose what I’m stumbling around trying to say is – the perfect place to write is wherever works for you. Outdoors or indoors, public or private, vast or minute, write wherever the writing wants you to. Wherever it's going well. Wherever the words just come. Perfect is where writing happens.
What's your perfect writing environment?
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