I write in the attic, which sounds delightfully bohemian, doesn’t it? In theory, this is what my desk looks like . . .
Yeah. Right. It looks like that for maybe one day a year!
Most of the time, it’s covered with paperwork and bills and goodness knows what else. This is an honest picture of how it looked today, but believe me, it can often be much worse . . .
It’s a shame, because it’s positioned under the skylight and would be nice if I could keep it clear. Instead, I often end up working at a smaller desk where the PC resides and there is less chance of clutter. It’s in a dreary corner, but once I’m over there, I’m less distracted by the heaps of non-writerly things to attend to.
Would you believe I’m actually a neat freak? Or I used to be, until I had a family. Mess stresses me out . . . Rather unfortunate, since our attic is the dumping ground for anything and everything that we intend to deal with sometime in the future (i.e. never). There are mini-mountains of stuff all over the floor. I keep meaning to do something about them, but the worse it gets, the more daunting the prospect. And with deadlines looming, for now I will just have to don mental blinkers and try not to look beyond the screen!
As for my writing routine – I know I should get started first thing to get a decent word count going, but I can’t work like that. I like to get admin, e-mails etc. out of the way first, then I require the one decent coffee I allow myself each day, and only then do I feel ready to write. I like music when I’m on e-mails, social media etc., but I rarely listen to music when I’m writing or editing. If I do, it has to be something without lyrics or I can’t concentrate. I prefer to write straight onto the computer. I only scribble longhand if I’m out and about and filling in time.
I take regular short breaks, try to fit in a short walk each day for fresh air, and I will work into the evenings if I’m in the mood or if I’ve been distracted during the day and not done enough. I don’t differentiate between workdays and the weekend at the moment, but I’ve only been a full-time writer since Christmas, so I’m still settling into what routine works best for me. Before I gave up my job, I had to be more disciplined about my time, although of course I was always tired. Now I have the freedom to structure my own day, but that’s a dangerous game in itself . . . Coffee, anyone?
Helen Pollard’s new book The Little French Guesthouse is out on 28th April.