This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
An absolutely fantastic, funny writing room piece from Stella Newman this week. Made even better by the picture of Tina Fey (Novelicious also have her picture on their desk for the exact same reason).
Over to Stella…
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I can never understand people who can sit in Starbucks writing their novels. I find it nigh on impossible to think when there are other people anywhere near me. And while I don’t go to the lengths that Jonathan Franzen apparently went to when writing The Corrections (ear plugs, noise cancelling headphones and a blindfold!) – I do understand the need for no distraction. I can be writing a scene set half way up a mountain in Spain, and I’ll have the burning urge to know the name of the actress who played Michael J Fox’s sister in Family Ties. Luckily I don’t have wi-fi, so I try to sit with the urge until it passes. (It was Justine Bateman, by the way – sometimes the urge doesn’t pass.)
Mostly I work in this room, which is the dining room in my flat. It’s good because it’s bright and relatively quiet. When writing Leftovers, I developed quite bad lower back ache. I attributed it to a particularly drunken bout of dancing, Gangnam style – but in retrospect I think it was the ferociously uncomfortable, cheap dining room chair I sit on when I write.
Other people think I’m messy but I consider myself to be pretty much on top of my chaos. The pink box file is full of scraps of paper that are thoughts I’ve collected along the way. I have at least one box per book, sometimes several.
It helps me to see my plot and themes visually when I’m writing– kind of like a big map. I’m a huge fan of stationery. I use different coloured post-it notes for different characters, plot points and themes, and recently I went to Paperchase and invested in these big pieces of coloured cardboard. I’m convinced they will help me significantly up my game. If I win the Booker next year, it’ll be thanks to them.
On the pinboard at the back are a few inspirations: some quotes about not procrastinating, and a picture of Tina Fey, who I think is one of the funniest, cleverest women in the world. My kitchen is next to the dining room and I make a cup of tea or coffee at least once an hour – and easily drink eight cups a day. That amount of caffeine is apparently bad for you but I’ve had worse vices. Back on the pin board is a card my colleague Jason gave me, which reads, ‘With a cup of tea in your hand, anything is possible.’ I think that’s probably true.