This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I like a minimal, well-organised space so that I can think, I won’t be distracted and I can find things if I need to! My office is almost entirely white but with splashes of colour and beautiful wood. My desk, floor and skirting boards are ethically-sourced oak and my cupboard is made out of white-washed driftwood from Cornwall. A large desk allows me either to concentrate on writing at my computer without heaps of clutter or to spread out my plot notes or the timeline of my novel. It’s taken me ages to save up for this desk – I’ve had a wobbly Ikea number for as long as I can remember! And although I’m lucky enough to have my own space in theory, in practice my office also doubles as the laundry room (it can get a bit humid!), spare bedroom (my Mum often comes to stay to help look after my daughter during the school holidays) and imaginary world. The ‘imaginary world’ is a sofa (the perfect place to curl up and proof-read) but most of the time it doubles as a train/plane/continent when my daughter is in here with me.
I keep my reference and research books alongside the desk, plus a towering stack of to-be-reads, as well as a shelf of all the books I’ve had published. My ninth, and my debut thriller, Bone by Bone, is out this month! I’ve also contributed to a couple of encyclopaedias. My desk faces out over the allotments that feature in Bone by Bone. When I wrote the first draft and then edited it a year later, it was autumn, which is when the novel is set. It’s good to be concretely reminded of grim skies and leafless trees if they feature in your writing!
I notice smells a lot (and write about them!) so I always try and burn candles while I’m working. Bay & Rosemary, by St Eval, is my favourite for daytime as it’s fresh and invigorating, and I use their Sandalwood candle to wind down in the evening. I usually have a plant – preferably a white orchid as it’s so calming – on my desk too.
I love art but I want the pictures in my office to be reflective, peaceful and inspiring; since I’m obsessed with flowers, I’ve gone for a modern, botanic art feel. I have several prints by Hannah McVicar, daughter of herb grower, Jekka McVicar. My brother, Patrick O’Connell, is a brilliant photographer so I’ve printed some of his photos of my daughter too.
I always make sure I have great coffee – I love Extract, a fairtrade, ethical roaster based just down the road from me – to get me going in the morning – but I often go to cafés to work too, partly since it’s good, once in a while to escape from the monastic stillness of my office and fling myself into the real world, and partly because there’s never enough cake in the house.
Sanjida’s new book, Bone by Bone, is out now!