Two of the most stressful things you can do is move house and start a new job. In December, I decided to do both. I have a philosophy that if you have several hard things to do, do them at the same time because how bad can it be, really? Hum…
Well, I’ve finally finished the move and I’m adoring my new flat. But after finding a bed and a mattress, figuring out where I would write was the next most important thing on my list. I have my desk, but I now also have a new kitchen table next to a big window which is a wonderful source of natural light.
But probably my favourite writing spot is the cafe down the road. Alright, it’s pretty hipster. And the radio is permanently tuned to Magic or Heart. And the food is so incredibly expensive which sucks for me because I’m a constant snacker when I’m writing. But I love the coffee and for the moments I’m stuck, there’s always something to look at.
Where writers write has always been a fascinating subject. Roald Dahl wrote in a shed. Virginia Woolf wrote in the storage room of her and her husband’s publishing business, which was in the basement. Dame Edith Sitwell would lie in a coffin for inspiration and Agatha Christie wrote in the bath.
Interestingly, as well as demanding the builders give her a big Victorian bath in her new home, Christie also asked for a window ledge, “because I like to eat apples.” The more and more I learn about her, the more I’m convinced she’s actually her character Ariadne Oliver.
But I think the danger of a place, time and ritual when it comes to writing comes from the fact that we are often creatures of habit. It’s easy to think because x, y, z isn’t right, I can’t really get into the writing mood. You’ve got a problem when you start getting that precious about your writing. Honestly, I do it myself. When I go to my local cafe and find someone already at the window seat, I can get rather… Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory about the whole thing.
Not to mention, like every artistic industry out there, I’ve found a lot of writers are mildly superstitious. It stands to reason that in a world where there seems to be no way to summon on command that spark of genius or inspiration, artist types search for explanations. It’s for the same reason actors are so superstitious, because the difference between a career ending night or the performance of a lifetime one could be down to something as simple as being told ‘good luck!’ rather than ‘break a leg’.
It’s perfectly okay to have a certain place, a certain time and a certain ritual to get the creative juices flowing. But remember that if you’re a writer, you’re a writer everywhere. And making yourself break down those boundaries of the ‘right time’ or ‘right place’ to write is important. Because it’s too easy an excuse to use to avoid writing when you’re ‘not in the mood’.
What about you guys? Does anyone have any crazy places they write? Or any writing rituals you care to share? Tell all!