National Novel Writing Month finishes tomorrow. I can’t believe we are almost at the end of another year. I hope you’ve had a good month. If you’re still going; that 50,000 word goal still being elusive, you can do it! Today, Cathie Hartigan talks about whether there is a right place to write:
Is there a right place to write? Perhaps there is, but it certainly isn’t the same place for everyone. I’ve met writers who can only work in a café or with the television on and those who need complete silence and become all night long writers. My friend and colleague, novelist Sophie Duffy writes in a lovely shed at the bottom of her garden, although she also recommends writing in bed. Hopeless for me! I fall asleep almost immediately.
My writing space is doubles as the HQ for CreativeWritingMatters and it’s chock full of files, books, several computers and stationary for England. We all know writing is sedentary so in order to get some exercise and not be distracted by a sudden need to turn on the washing machine, I take myself to the wonderful Devon and Exeter Institution (it’s a library, honest!) as often as I can. There I can sit at a huge mahogany table, which has nothing on it except a fabulous shine. Perfect. I’m nose to screen until from across the green I hear the Cathedral clock strike five and it’s time for the library to close.
I used to think that where I wrote was deeply significant, but now, with a considerable number of words having run through my fingers, I realise that quality writing depends on whether my mind is focussed rather than where I’m sitting. If I’m deep in a novel, I can write anywhere, whereas if I’m scratching about with an idea that isn’t working, then I’m eager to be distracted. I do like curling up on the sofa with a notebook to write poetry, but recently, because it seemed urgent and appropriate, I wrote a poem on my phone. The poem’s called iPhone love, although it isn’t about loving an iPhone! Even so, I did transfer the draft onto my laptop for polishing.
It amazes me when I hear of writers who are prolific in the face of demanding families and/or jobs and I am full of admiration for them. Margaret James, the third member of the CreativeWritingMatters team, and co-author with me of The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook, is very disciplined in the way she structures her working day and I’m sure one reason for that is because she began her writing career when her children were very small.
Virginia Woolf said a woman needed money and a room of her own. Yes, I’d go along with that. I’ve got the room of my own sorted, now for the other thing…
Cathie Hartigan was a pianist and a music teacher until she swapped keyboards and became a writer and teacher of creative writing. Cathie and her fellow author, Margaret James have also put together The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook which is available from Amazon and is full of useful tips for writing that novel.
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