In the right place

I’ve been away. I won’t tell you where I went, but it’s somewhere I go whenever I want peace and quiet, space to think, dream and write, with a sense of home and people who are dear to me close by. It’s a long way from where I live and work but I love the journey. I go there as often as I can; it’s a physical place, but I also go there in my mind’s eye whenever I need a mental break. I can go there simply by closing my eyes. It’s a place of great beauty, off the beaten track; a place that inspires me, calms me and comforts me. Last week, when I was there, I didn’t write very much at all, but I read and I thought about a story that I’m working on. Something about the place, being somewhere different without the distractions of home and normal life, freed me up to solve a problem of plot and make a realisation about the significance of a character who had been lurking in the background.

When I returned home I was overwhelmed by the desire to move my desk. This surprised me, because I had moved it just a few months ago when, at the end of a big writing project, I felt the need for a change of layout. The space in which I work had become cluttered and over familiar. I needed to try a different angle and a different view. My desk is heavy but with the help of a friend, I turned it round to where it used to be; looking out of the window, with my back to the rest of the house. It feels better.

The places and spaces in which we write can make a difference. Some prefer public spaces – cafes, libraries – others choose a favourite spot at home, some go away. It’s a very personal choice. The wrong space can hinder the creative process; the right one, at the right time, can be liberating.

What’s your favourite space in which to write? Do you ever shift it around? Why not try somewhere new? See what difference it makes. I dare you.

3 Comments on “In the right place”

  1. smithwriting

    You’re right about the importance of finding the right place to write, Jane. It’s something I struggle with as our house seems to be busy all the time. To paraphrase Virginia Woolf, a room of one’s own is what’s needed. Failing that, a corner of the dining room table and a bit of peace and quiet.


  2. Wendy French

    It’s not so much place but like Mary I need my own space. I like cafes with a good coffee to kick start me into action. I have a favourite place but it’s in my head. I don’t need peace I just need not to be needed for anyone for a time. But like Jane I agree it’s good to move the desk round if you can.

  3. Philip Dixon

    Whenever I read about Scott’s ill-fated 1910-12 expedition to the South Pole, one of the things that impresses me most is the quality of the writing at the end. The three men who perished in the tent on the return journey, Dr Edward “Bill” Wilson, Lieutenant Henry “Birdie” Bowers and Captain Scott himself were all good writers. When I visit the Scott Polar museum in Cambridge and pull out the drawers containing their salvaged pencil-written letters and journals I am often moved to tears. There is a well known photograph of Scott sitting at his desk writing his journal in the Cape Evans hut during the winter of 2011. It must have been an inspirational place for writing, if a little extreme. At times, during the long sunless winters, with raging blizzards outside, there may have been little else to do but write. Copies of the ‘South Polar Times’ which these early explorers produced annually are revealing examples of their creativity and humour stimulated by the location.
    I am often drawn to rustic places for writing on holiday such as huts and boats. This feeling probably accounts for why I now live in a barn which has a good solid table. And when my writing gets stuck I can clear my head by walking out across open fields to nearby woodland. This last winter there were several blizzards to go with it too!
    ‘It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more.’

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