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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