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Where to Write

Posted by on July 3, 2014

“Where do you like to write?” – That is one of those favourite questions that some brave person nestling in an audience enjoying a writer’s workshop or interviews at literary festivals always asks, often hotly followed by,  “How do you organise your writing day?’ and “Where do you get your inspiration from?”

Usually the writer patiently finds an answer to satisfy, but I did once hear Lionel Shriver, the author who shot to global fame with her eighth book We Need to Talk About Kevin, spit out a retort that she was fed up of being asked those kinds of questions.   Did we, as novice writers, she asked the small eager huddled group of us sitting on old battered sofas in a dreamy timbered barn in deepest Devon with our pencils and laptops at the ready, really think that by emulating a successful writer’s habits we would achieve the same through some kind of osmosis?    Well here’s hoping!

Unlike the writers Daphne du Maurier and Roland Dahl I don’t have a garden to house a shed in with big Do No Disturb instructions vibrating from the woodwork.  I have in the past managed to write in the quiet moments between clients but unlike Sebastian Faulks I have no office.   I work from home.  He rents office space and works regular office hours that give him the discipline and framework to focus his thoughts and efforts –very successfully I might add.   Me?   I have always liked to write in the comfort of my home.  I like being curled up on the sofa with pencil and paper to get the project going, start my mornings propped up in bed with my laptop and eventually end up sitting up at a desk.

My “desk” has been the round dinning room table or my Grandmother’s bureau which has been moved around my current home from the living room looking out over the communal gardens to the bedroom with a slightly different garden vista, into the hall with no view whatsoever and back to the bedroom along a wall.   I decided last year to buy a dedicated writing surface in the form of a small glass and steel IKEA desk which has shifted along similar lines of the bureau journey but less influenced by whether radiators are working which is always a consideration with old wooden furniture.

Early July Morning Hightress House

Early July Morning Hightress House

I realise as I write this piece that over the last fifteen years in other two homes I have written four business books and co-authored two more, but no writing project has been completed in my current flat in nearly four years.   I am still moving the writing furniture about and trying to find a comfortable chair.  However my eye has come to rest on the kitchen.  I feel my days of cooking for forty are over and that a little Paris kitchen would suit me fine.   So far I have replaced the opaque glass in the kitchen window with clear panes to see the garden – I like views when I write.   My friend Dan is convinced someone will pay me a couple of hundred pound for the fifteen-year old kitchen and remove it free of charge if it is posted on   Over to you Dan I say.  He is coming to photograph the cabinets next week and Steve the builder is booked for September to create a new simple kitchen-come-writing space.   The other advantage of the kitchen is that if my design works there will be a large expanse of blank wall to stick notes, timelines and relevant pictures on to which I always find useful in the past.

Hopefully all is not lost.   I might yet get back on the productive writing track sooner rather than later or never.

© Nicola Stevens 2014

One Response to Where to Write

  1. Susie Gutch

    I like to think of you creating your own writing space/place and carving it out of the kitchen. That in itself is a statement of intent. Good for you, and good luck with the transformation. Lovely view of the garden when you pause for thought.
    I have just dismantled my room in the old house, and am in the process of creating a new study here on the island.The windows are quite high up so you can see the trees and the sky, but not too many distractions. I still haven’t unpacked all the boxes and there’ll be no time to settle down to write for a while as the summer holidays are almost upon us.I hope to be able to begin again in September.
    Meanwhile, enjoy the summer, and pause to reflect on dear old James Joyce who liked to write at the kitchen table with all the hubbub around him including Nora, his wife, who was probably nattering away about her new hat!

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