I was writing a scene in my current wip this week where one of my characters, Vicky a would be writer, discovers a wonderful summer house in the garden of the villa she was staying in on holiday. She immediately decided that that was where she’d spend her time writing. The garden was beautiful, the view of the blue Mediterranean wonderful and she just knew that her writing would be inspired in this place.
I got so carried away with my vision of this summerhouse that I began to research writer’s rooms and I’m sorry to say the little green eyed monster made an appearance. There were arty rooms, lived in rooms,spartan rooms, rooms with a view, rooms in cottages, rooms at the top of elegant townhouses. Many rooms were bigger than the sitting room in my quirky little cottage. Suffice to say - whatever they were like they were a million miles away from this writer’s life! Rather like this rather grand picture of a room in Harewood House.
I did learn a couple of interesting things though. Jane Austin, without a room she could call her own, settled near a door, writing on small pieces of paper which she could easily hide from prying eyes when the creaking of another door warned her somebody was coming. She apparently refused to allow the creak to be oiled.
Margaret Forster, interviewed for the Guardian’s series on ‘Writer’s Rooms’ years ago, said of her room: ‘The minute I walk into this room of my own, I swear I become a different person. The wife, the mother, the granny, the cook, the cleaner - all vanish, for two or three hours only the writer is left.’
And that really sums it up for me - we all need to find somewhere where we can become that writer for however little time we can spare to write.
As for me, I do have my own tiny writing space. Currently it’s in what was originally a lean to at the back of the cottage that has been converted into a bathroom and an extra room. I share this room with a put-u-up, the airing cupboard, the ironing pile and board and a chest freezer! It’s also not unknown for the roof to leak. Next year when we finally have a new roof I’m hoping to be able to move upstairs and create a proper writer’s room!
I know lots of my writer friends write on laptops sitting at the kitchen table or on the sofa but I find that an impossible scenario for me. I need silence and the ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign hanging from the door.
So, do you have a room of your own like Virginia Woolf advocated ninety years ago as essential to women writers? Or maybe you run away from home to write? Find a friendly cafe where you can people watch as you write? Or does the silence of your library appeal more? If you stay home do you sit on the sofa and shut everything out? Do you need a view? A blank wall? What does it take to get you ‘in the zone’? If you have a room of your own do you obey Stephen King and shut the door on the real world to inhabit your imaginary one? Do tell us.