Virginia Woolf advocated A Room of One’s Own to write in. Jane Austen wrote in the family parlour. Paper and pencil/laptop being portable, writing is physically possible anywhere but not always mentally possible.
Some write in coffee shops – I’ve tried that but find it hard to tune out other people’s conversations, not to mention the noise of the coffee machine. But complete quiet around you, in the Reading Room of the National Library for example, can have a paralysing effect. Am I making too much noise tapping keys, making notes, breathing?
At home my writing space used to be the kitchen table but now that my son lives far away from home I’ve commandeered the desk in his bedroom … bought a new chair … put up a notice board … and added bits and pieces to make it look like a writer’s room.
There’s a lovely view from the window (shame about the cars though) and gazing at it is not procrastination of course – staring out of windows is part of the writer’s job description. The green on the other side of the road is a golf course in the summer – and beneath the velvet grass, it’s said, is a burial ground for long-ago plague victims. In the winter when the trees are leafless, and if I crane my neck, up on the right I can see Edinburgh Castle.
On the wall in front of me and my laptop is the aforementioned notice board. Scribbled notes on various works-in-progress (hope I can still read them.) On the bottom left, the illustration of my story, Class of '64 published last month in The People’s Friend, the red-haired young girl looking spookily like my teenage self (see photo on the right).
In front of the notice board is my favourite red-head, Anne of Green Gables, a doll brought back by my sister from Prince Edward Island.
There was a TV show a few years ago called End of Story (sadly, never repeated), a competition where well-known writers, such as Ian Rankin and Marian Keyes, wrote part of a story and viewers finished them – the winners had their stories read out and got to meet the authors. I didn’t enter but sent off for the End of Story mug to keep pencils in and to inspire me to keep going. It's sitting on top of a box of index cards, one for each story I've written.
On the chest of drawers is a lovely sunflower tin with horrible receipts in it – book writing is one thing but book-keeping is something else and the downside of being self-employed. Next to it is the quaich awarded when I won the Romance Novel competition at this year’s Scottish Association of Writers’ Conference. And next to that a collection of bookmarks in a (washed …) syrup tin.
I can’t always be sitting in that office chair though. A useful piece of advice is to print out the last page of your wip, or write the last sentence down on an index card, and carry it around with you – then you can keep writing wherever you are.
And eventually you, or even I, will get to the end of the story.