The thing that is most essential to me getting words down on the page is comfort, ergo many, many scatter cushions and a footrest. I usually have a cafetiere of coffee on the go, which I forget about and let go cold more often than not, but even having the smell of freshly brewing coffee seems to help get my creative juices going.
Before lockdown, I used to write at my local coffee shop, so I guess I might be trying to recreate the atmosphere of that in my own home. I like the constant, yet unobtrusive noise of a coffee shop. It isn’t enough to distract you, yet it’s enough to not make you think too much, because as any author can tell you, thinking too much about your novel, especially when it’s in first draft form, is a sure fire way to make you stop writing, go outside and set your laptop, and everything on it, ablaze.
So, while at home, the soothing sounds of an instrumental folk playlist is enough to get me by without sending me into a crisis. I like to have books that I’m currently reading close by, so that if I need a break, I can grab one and read a chapter or two.
I live opposite Sutton Park in Birmingham and so, often you can look at the window to see a Canada Goose or two strutting about by the lake on the other side of the road and the sound of the occasional honking goose is welcome background noise.
The geese, although delightful, are no replacement for the cat I left behind when I moved out of my family home and in with my boyfriend, Matt. Loki, my eleven year old kitty was a constant writing companion throughout the penning of my first novel Very Nearly Normal, but alas, times change and at least I have the geese.
During April, the four ornamental cherry blossoms that surround our house on all sides bloom into burst of frothy pink flowers that stay for a fleeting two weeks or so, before disappearing until next year. But in the short time that they are here, they do a pretty good job of distracting me with their beauty.
I do most of my writing on my laptop, which I cover in stickers that mean something to me (some of which spark strange looks from people when I write in coffee shops). But before I start any project, create a notebook and fill it with all the information I’m going to need for the novel I am about to write. I tend to cast my main characters as actors, as this helps me to visualise what’s going on in my head. So, photographs of the actors along with a character profile fill the first ten or so pages, as well as maps of places that my characters will visit and themes and topics that I want to address in that specific work. My current book had been opened and closed so many times that the spine has given way and is now held together with a strip of shiny black duct tape.
Although these are my ideal conditions for writing, inspiration can strike anywhere and I have been known to hastily buy a notebook on a day out to write down three or four pages of thoughts or characters that have sprung into my head.
So, in short, writing can be done anywhere, but comfy cushions and hot coffee help.