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Writing at home { NW5 }


This series of posts is an attempt to break the writing habit of a lifetime. The one that has seen me spurn London’s loveliest cafés, parks and libraries for my own cramped little basement flat. I’m more productive when I write in different places, and not that much of a recluse by nature, so why have I persisted so long in tapping away down here like a fame-free J D Salinger?


I’m crap at sticking to routines, so when and where I write varies day to day. Oh, the choices are endless. Messy desk (the camera does lie) in the windowless hallway under the stairs? Yes please. Kitchen table next to the grumbling washing machine and/or clanging pipes? Why not. Feet on pouffe with laptop in ovary-melting position? Go on then, I’ll spoil myself.

As it’s a basement flat, none of these locations are exactly flooded in natural light, so even if I manage to get a fair amount of writing done I emerge from it feeling distinctly unhealthy. It’s a different story if the sun comes out. Yes, the word count plummets when I trail my laptop cable out of the bedroom window to squint at the suddenly dusty screen. But few things make me feel more content (read: dangerously smug) than writing in my garden.


Many and various. I’m not bad at resisting the TV, but the internet is a killer. Friends have recommended child locks and timer apps, but as I’m writing historical fiction it’s pretty useful to be able to check up the odd fact. There’s also the elephant in the room, which is the mess/dust/grime in the room, and it tends to trumpet loudest when I’m finding my writing a struggle. At these times the best solution is to think of it as a modern day garret. The dustier the surfaces, the closer I am to finishing my novel. Yeah, that works.

Food & drink

One of the worst thing about writing at home. If it’s going well I ditch meals for quick snacks like buttered toast. If it’s going badly I’ve been known to succumb to self-destruction and eat paste. Either way it’s bad news for my waistline. *EVACUATE FLAT*

The lowdown

“Freedom 1-2 Distraction”  |  234.5-words-per-hour


4 Comments leave one →
  1. 07/04/2011 15:10

    “laptop in ovary-melting position” – so I’m not the only one to think that? (!)

    • 03/05/2011 12:04

      My gosh, I have also worried about exactly the same thing! (But without worrying enough to stop doing it, of course.)

  2. 19/04/2011 13:14

    It is often the case that if the writing is going well, then a writer will not notice their environment. It will completely fade into a distant background. It is only when we mull over the next steps do we take a moment to consider using our environment as the distraction excuse for not working.

    There is a writer on the New York Times bestseller list who wrote his novel in prison. That itself inspires me to never use my own environment as an excuse for not delivering the word count pre-determined by a writing schedule.

    For the very best writing is not done in a home, or a cafe, or a library, but in one’s own head.

  3. 19/04/2011 13:25

    Very true, James. I am suitably shamed.

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