In Part Five of Writing Room Revelations, authors Jo Treggiari, Cat Clarke, Candy Gourlay and Anne Rooney answer the questions:
Where do you write? And what does your writing space give you – i.e. why do you write there?
Where do you do your most creative thinking – and when? (e.g particular time of day, conscious space e.g. dreams)
Do you use/need anything particular in order to help you write? (e.g. music, chocolate, coffee, silence etc) In what way does this “support” help you?
Debut author of Ashes, Ashes
For the first time in my life I have an office. It even has a door which I can close in the faces of my children. Unfortunately in order to enjoy the wonderful view I have out the sun porch of the sea and the lovely town I now live in, I chose to remove the wall opposite my desk. This means that I am exposed on that side to requests for cookies and questions about philosophy I have no hope of answering. On the plus side, besides the view it has bulletin boards, space for calming pictures, an old coal fireplace, and floor to ceiling bookshelves.
When I am in the midst of really writing a book, I can have an 'aha' moment at anytime but most often it is during my morning walk with the dog. I am quite rigid about having a notebook and 2 pens with me always because in the past I have been forced to scrawl notes to myself up and down each forearm. I have a routine for writing which I do not deviate from unless someone is really sick, and that is: sit down in front of the computer immediately after walkies and don't stir until I have written at least 1000 words. Repeat every day except for Sunday, unless things are going gang-busters in which case hours and word counts increase exponentially.
I don't need anything exactly but I enjoy chocolate and wine, more as mood uplifters rather than inspirational tools. I used to think I wrote fabulously when drunk but it wasn't true. I have also spilled wine on the keyboard on occasion so I am very very careful now. I also cannot function without 2 cups of coffee a day but that's just to wake myself up.
You can find out more about Jo Treggiari on her website
And you can become a fan on Jo’s Facebook page
Debut author of Entangled
I mostly write in my study, with the occasional trip to a coffee shop if I’m feeling antsy. The coffee shop has the added bonus of treacle scones; my study has the added bonus of cats. I’m slowly getting used to the study – I’ve only been in this house for a couple of months. Things I like about it: my cupboard doors of inspiration (pictured); a huge desk that allows me to be very disorganized; bookshelves filled with incredible books I wish I’d written; proximity to the kitchen.
I do a lot of my thinking on the bus or the train, watching the world go by. If I sit down at my desk and try to think, I usually come up with nothing (or at least, nothing good anyway). I’ve had a couple of good ideas from dreams, but they always seem to lose something as soon as I write them down.
I need to listen to music, and it has to be loud enough to drown out any other thoughts. I also need lots of cups of tea (please note the embarrassingly tea-stained mug on the desk), a glass of water, a hot water bottle at my feet (not when I’m at the coffee shop... that would be weird), cats (who usually occupy the tartan blanket in the corner of the photo) and something fun to look forward to. I need incentives to get me to sit down and write – an episode of my latest DVD boxset usually does the trick.
You can find out more about Cat Clarke on her website.
You can also follow Cat on her blog.
And you can become a fan on Cat Clarke's Facebook page.
Award nominated and winning debut author of Tall Story.
I've been trying to wean myself from spending so much time in cafes (so fattening) and I seem to be succeeding! For the past month I've been writing consistently in my office, which I call a shed but is really a proper room in the garden with a little decking area. I love sitting in the shed, surrounded by my stuff - my books, my Toy Story alien, drawings by various neighbourhood children, photos of my children and hubby, and my kit. The danger of being so near my "kit" (recording, video, editing) is I'm easily distracted into impulsive video making. It's great now that I'm a published author to have the excuse of making marketing material for myself on YouTube. I've planted a yellow bamboo tree just outside to remind me of home (the Philippines), and staring at the bamboo is
hugely therapeutic. I also have a view of our oversized trampoline and if I'm unlucky, the trampoline will be full of bouncing teenagers. Which means no more writing.
Creative thinking seems to come at any given moment and often not when I have a moment to jot things down! But I do try to kickstart the creative juices in the morning by reading something brilliant - like re-reading chapters of Geraldine McCaughrean's The White Darkness or a short story from Ray Bradbury's story collection.
Silence is key in the shed ... and no connection to the internet whatsoever!
The weird thing is my best writing position is sitting in the leather chair with my feet up on another seat. I only write in my netbook - I so love the new Microsoft Word 2007. Tried writing on the iMac I use for design work and it's impossible! Or maybe I'm a creature of very fixed habits!
You can read more about Candy Gourlay on her website.
You can read Candy's blog.
You can become a fan of Tall Story's Facebook page
Author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books for children including, most recently, Off the Rails, Monster in the Garden and, Grim, Gross and Grisly.
I can write almost anywhere. This afternoon I was writing in a café, and then sitting on some unused tables in the main hall of Small Bint’s school while she was setting up her GCSE art exhibition. [Author’s note, Small Bint is the affectionate by which Anne refers to her younger daughter.] But usually I write in my lovely office, which is so packed full of obscure objects that there is barely room for me. From here I can see: a stuffed piranha, a plastic cardinal, a flamingo wishbone, some volcanic rock from Mount Etna, a chunk of the Berlin Wall, part of an Etruscan amphora... There are French windows onto the roof garden and in the summer I can work outside looking down on the chickens wrecking the real garden and the tortoise in his gulag. I write in here because it’s (a) warm (b) bint-free and (c) full of my mess, rather than anyone else’s, so – unbelievably – I know where to find things.
Early morning is usually best. If I don’t get any creative work done between 6am and 8am the rest of the day is probably doomed and may as well be spent doing the accounts or faffing about on Facebook and writing blog posts while pretending that it counts as work really. Look, if I spend two hours chatting to Mary Hoffman, that must be work, right? We will mention a book at some point. We will be snide about Twilight. It will be very intellectual. I think at lot while walking, too – often to Waitrose. Sometimes I have to steal bits of loo roll to write down the ideas so that I don’t forget them while shopping. Sometimes I forget to do the shopping and just get carried away by the ideas and go home with two items, probably useless – a magazine for the bint and some rubber gloves, for instance.
Coffee, to get started; Radio 4 in the morning, Radio 3 later, especially if it’s playing opera. An opera CD if the radio is rubbish or playing that awful world music programme on Saturdays before the opera. I think they took too seriously that bit in Paradise Lost about heaven having no meaning if you don’t have hell. I would have been willing to take heaven on trust. Sorry, what was the question? Oh, gin and orange. With the opera, on a Saturday night – best time of all. But that would make for slow books as it’s only about three hours a week.
You can find out more about Anne Rooney on her website.
You can read Anne’s excellent blog, The Stroppy Author, in which she shares much of her extensive writing experience.
And you can become a fan on Anne Rooney’s Facebook page
You can also read Anne’s article Banned: The Hidden Censorship in Children’s Books on the New Humanist site