The question in the post was suggested to me by Declan Drake (@declan_drake).
I can write anywhere and I have. Some of my novel, Ashes, out later this year, was written in the main branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library, which is an amazing place – truly wonderful! Why Utah? I could tell you but it’s only tangentially relevant to this article.
If I want to do my best writing, it has to be like this:
Silence. When I was at university, I would study with ear plugs in. I need to hear what I’m thinking and I can’t do that if anything else is taking my auditory attention.
Clear Space. I am a neat freak. It helps me concentrate on my writing if I can’t see any mess. Mess represents housework, which is something which doesn’t mix well with trying to write a novel*.
Light. My desk is by the window so that I can see the sky. I grew up on a fairly flat island that was dominated by sky. The painter JMW Turner said of those skies, they were “the loveliest in all Europe” and he was probably right. The skies over the flatness of Cambridgeshire are expansive and help me to write. If I can’t have natural light, I have to have a lamp.
What about you? I would love to hear from other people about their working environments. It doesn’t have to be writing. How do you like to concentrate?
*This isn’t actually strictly true. Housework leaves my mind free to wander and this does help the planning and development of plot, which is helpful in trying to write a novel.