Readers are often interested to know where I write. Whilst still working full-time I wrote whenever and wherever I could, often scribbling a few words in the early morning before rushing off to work.
I usually took my lunch break in an hotel bar near the office. I’d order myself a cappuccino and soon learned to shut out the muzak and the chatter of conversation while I tapped furiously on my laptop for fifty minutes. My colleagues jokingly accused me of disappearing off into the seventeenth century!
In the evening I’d keep the lap top open in the kitchen while I prepared dinner and edited what I’d written during the day and, several evenings a week, I’d write late into the night.
Now I write full-time and have the good fortune of three inspiring places to work.
My summertime writing retreat is in a converted outbuilding in the garden. Over the years it became a dumping ground for junk and even home to a flat-packed shed! Recently I turfed out all the boxes and redecorated the room in a beautiful duck egg green. One wall is covered with bookshelves and another with low filing cabinets.
There is a comfortable armchair, my Thinking Chair’ where I do my research and drink endless cups of tea.
A glazed roof lantern floods the room with light and there is a window like a giant letterbox above my desk, from where I can see the garden and watch the birds on the feeder hanging from the pergola.
Beyond the garden are the woods, mostly beech and silver birch. Sometimes, to the detriment of the roses, the garden is visited by deer.
If it’s warm I write with the door open and can stroll around the garden muttering snatches of dialogue under my breath as I wrestle with plot problems.
In the winter I set up camp a cosy study with a woodburning stove.
My desk faces the window and allows me to look into the woods that surround our cottage. I keep binoculars on the windowsill to watch the woodpeckers. The small sofa is usually cluttered with piles of history books sprouting yellow Post-it bookmarks, notebooks and my ‘nest of vipers’ – a jumble of electrical cables and leads for various laptops, ipads, Kindles, etc.
I have a new desk chair since I’m plagued by Writers’ Back, and have invested in a laptop stand and wireless trackpad and keyboard for my Mac. For those of you who suffer from back and neck pain from spending too many hours looking down at a laptop, I heartily recommend this solution.
I plan a great deal of my writing while walking the dog in the beautiful woods that surround our cottage.
Walking in the fresh air and being near to Nature has the wonderful side-effect of making me far more productive when working out plots and characters. Hattie, though, would much rather I concentrated of chasing rabbits and throwing her ball! Hattie is a great writing companion and reminds me, frequently, that it’s important not to sit hunched over a laptop all day.
I’m very lucky to have dedicated places to write and to be able to leave my research books and papers laid out without risk of interference. What is interesting is that, once I’m in the throes of creating the secret world of my next book, I feel as if I’m actually there and I hardly notice my real surroundings at all!