This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Taking inspiration from The Guardian's 'Writers' Rooms', Sky Arts' 'The Write Place' and Book Chick City's excellent 'Where Stories Are Made'; My Writing Room is a fabulous fortnightly event, in which some of our favourite authors show us where the writerly magic happens, and tell us a little about their writing life.
This week we get to have a nosy about the writing space of Little Black Dress author – Phillipa Ashley!
My Writing Room by Phillipa Ashley
It’s fortunate that a few months before having My Writing Room featured on Novelicious, I’d just had a giant new bookcase. That meant I had to tidy up the clutter to get the book case in my room. It also meant that my husband had to help me, as much of the floor space was occupied by his work folders and several crates of Black Stump.
After a weekend of toil, foul language and trips to the recycling bin, my office was finally fit to be seen (if not actually tested for MRSA) by Aggie and Kim. I was so astonished by the tidiness, I took a picture.
The clutter has spread as fast and thick as Japanese knotweed. There are two more crates of Laithwaites finest on the carpet, more of ‘his’ stuff, the accounts, a clipping of Roque Santa Cruz (he just so is a character in my latest) and an overflowing box relating to a library talk I gave recently.
I’ve used the same writing room for the past 13 years and also run my own freelance copywriting business from here. The room morphed naturally into a novel writing space when I got hooked on fiction in late 2004/2005.
I produce most of my commercial work up here, but I sometimes use my laptop for writing novels. Changing locations helps my back and helps to differentiate work from um… a different type of work! The laptop is also invaluable for keeping an eye on
I don’t have much of a problem switching form novels to commercial work. One of them is almost always screaming for priority, sometimes both. I have written professionally for over 20 years now and know I just have to knuckle down and get on with the job, whether that’s writing a sexy emotional scene, crafting a CEO’s speech or a brochure on Acme widgets.
My family has framed all the covers of my books and hung them on the walls of my office, along with a special ‘movie collage’. It feature photos from our 2009 visit to the set of 12 Men of Christmas (my first novel, Decent Exposure, was made into a Lifetime movie and is being published in the
I also have a board I call : The ‘I am not crap’ board. This was made my by family in an attempt to stem my endless self-doubt and angst. They dug out reader comments, good reviews and congrats cards from my editor and stuck them to the board. It also has a screen capture of Decent Exposure hitting number one on the Play.com romance chart and a smiley Care Bear. I also have little pictures and messages from my family dotted about the office.
My keyboard is, I’m afraid, disgusting – full of crumbs. Let me tell you that trying to eat a Greggs mince pie while typing is one way to get a very sticky keyboard.
I recently used my ‘I am not crap’ board for plotting my latest ms. However, at the end of the first draft, I totally rewrote the draft. So far, I’ve rewritten every book several times. Planning or panstering has made no difference to the amount of rewriting or editing I’ve had to do.
My only tip is, if you start a book; expect to rewrite it again and again. I know very few writers who hardly ever rewrite. I know scores who do. According to my husband, John Grisham rewrote King of Torts about six times. He told me this on holiday to give me comfort, I think.
I wish I had a magic writing tip beyond than the bland: every book is different. But it’s true; just like pregnancy and birth, every book is individual and unpredictable. Some come relatively easily, others, frankly, fight like hell to be born at all. But isn’t the rollercoaster part is the highlight part of journey?
Yes it is! Thanks, Phillipa!