This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Every morning, when I’m working on a book, I mount two sets of stairs, the first broad and gracious, the second steep and narrow, to reach my shabby eyrie at the top of the house. In Edwardian times it must have been a maid’s room. A rather chilly one, I’d have thought – even now it’s unheated, and the only window looks north – but there’s a good view over the roof of our garage to a great old ash tree, full of clattering magpies, and leafy back gardens beyond. It would be distracting to position the desk under this window, so instead it faces a wall that meets a sloping ceiling festooned with yellow Post-it notes on which I’ve scrawled arcane messages to myself (‘the glass cold against her cheek’, or ‘where did her rucksack go?’) or listed the birth dates of my characters.
In theory, a writer should be able to write anywhere: on a train, in a coffee shop, in a hotel room, and there are times when I have to do so. But a special space – even if it’s your own kitchen table – helps form a habit of mind, and it is this which a practising writer requires most of all. A writer writes, that defines her, and settling down somewhere regular helps puts one in the right mindset. To keep your writing tools there – I use a notebook and pen and a computer – and any books you need to refer to, supports the process. There are objects on the shelves, too, that reinforce my sense of purpose. A carved zebra that found its way into my new novel, A Week in Paris, currently stands between a beribboned chunk of an old wooden shelf from Foyles bookshop and the plaster cherub that looked benignly down on me during the writing of The Glass Painter’s Daughter, a book which is full of angels. There are postcards, too, and photos of my children. By the time I took these photographs the zebra had wandered off somewhere. Nevermind, something else will take its place. It’s rather like the writing process.
It’s in this room that I shut myself away every working morning, wrapping up warmly in a blanket in winter, open the window to the breeze in summer. I listen to the birds scrabble on the roof tiles above my head and feel free to write and dream.
A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore is out now.