Write Time, Write Place

Writing requires more than inspiration, and that inspiration never happens when you are supposed to be writing.

Image Credit: 
Public Domain

“I write whenever I feel the inspiration…”

If that statement rings true for you, you’re not going to get much done. I never write when I feel the inspiration, because I’m often on the motorway, in the supermarket, chasing the kids or out walking the dog when my lightning strikes.

I used to keep a notebook, but I’m exceptionally lazy and it soon turned out that even the act of grabbing a pencil and doing a few scribbles was too much for me. Besides, you could be in the middle of a dinner party when somebody makes an observation that triggers inspiration… and suddenly you’re not listening to a word they’re saying because you have the opening line of your new book. In this case, it’s quite rude to start scrawling away in a notebook… but it’s perfectly acceptable to nip to the toilet with your shiny digital voice recorder and get those notes down in secret.

US Air Force / Public Domain

I’m serious. I’ve done this: I do it all the time.

The idea of using a voice recorder instead of a notepad only came to me when I watched the horror movie adaptation of Stephen King’s 1408, where John Cusack’s character records every thought and feeling he has on a voice recorder. I bought a digital version within twenty-four hours of watching the movie and I haven’t lost a single idea since. I’ve actually committed the crime above, vanishing during a dinner party to record an entire scene that came from two octogenarians fighting over the salt and pepper dispensers. If you don’t like the idea of a dedicated machine, why not opt for a voice-recording app on your smartphone? Most of these are quick, easy and very user-friendly.

If you can record your thoughts, ideas, characters and plot narratives, then suddenly ‘the right time’ becomes any time you can free up to actually sit down and hammer out a first draft.

The right place is a little more complicated… and the answer is different for everyone. I know an author that writes in his garden shed, I know several that have a dedicated office and one that even hires an office in a large block specifically to write. I’m very different to these folks, however: I write anywhere. I do mean anywhere: my kitchen, the car, coffee shops, the gym, my office, the shed. The latter pair are the least effective environments for me, however. Despite having an enormous shed with a dedicated work space and an office filled with books specifically to inspire me, I have discovered—over the years—that I need the one thing most writers would drive miles in order to avoid: NOISE. I tend to frequent coffee shops quite a lot, purely because the hustle and bustle of activity galvanises me to forge on with whatever project I’m attempting to complete.

Most importantly, you need to find a space that feels entirely yours. This might be a favourite table at a café, a particular parking space with a great view or even that tiny lean-to cluttered with spades and other gardening equipment.

If you genuinely struggle when attempting to locate a place you can write, then have a look at your most successful piece of writing—the one you’re proudest of—and try to remember where you were when you wrote it.

Once you have the right place and the right time to get started, set yourself a daily, weekly or monthly word limit and stick to it.

David Grimstone (David Lee Stone) from Ramsgate is a bestselling author of series fiction for Disney USA, Penguin USA and Hodder UK.

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