Daily Archives: December 23, 2009

The Perfect Writing Environment?

The dream is to write from home, at a desk overlooking a river, harbour, or the sea.  A big desk in a quiet room, with lots of well organised drawers, space for an A5 ‘ideas book’ which I can scribble on, or plot outlines in different colours.  A nice pen, stored nearby in its’ case, and a reading light.  A small stereo/radio sits on a far corner, the speakers mounted just above my head, for those times I’m in the writing zone and need some music, or want to sit back, have a cup of tea and listen to the Book Show on Radio National.  Nearby are my guitars, set up and ready to go whenever I want to play them.  

The chair is leather, comfortable and the perfect height to slip under the desk.  The floor is timber, so the chair glides easily over to a well stocked bookcase, which stores all my research notes.  It is a place of peace, order, and harmony.  It is my ‘zone’.  Aaah bliss!   

It is currently a far cry from the reality.  But here’s the thing, while I wait (eagerly) for the perfect writing environment, I’m still able to pound out my columns, novels etc. in a less than perfect situation.  For instance, I was hammering away on my keyboard the other night, following a particularly interesting train of thought, which I had to get down before I forgot it, as so often happens.  Around me there were three conversations going on, two of them were fairly loud, one was being directed at me (I think), in the background the tv was blaring at an uncaring audience, and the phone was ringing merrily away, demanding someone’s attention.  In spite of all the noise and distractions, I still managed to churn out a reasonable first draft for one of my columns, which I later hammered into shape after several edits. 

Nice View! Terrible distraction...

I’m starting to wonder if I actually need that sort of pressure cooker environment.  A couple of months ago, while we were on holidays in Caloundra, I took all my writing equipment, and some books which I wanted to give a lot of close attention to.  Total sum of work completed:  Three parts of bugger all.  The view from the balcony was magnificent.  Too good actually.  Whales were jumping, the jet ski’s were leaping over the waves in front of our unit, and the scenery was just too interesting for me to tear my eyes away from it.  There were far too many ‘good distractions’ for me to knuckle down and write.  It was too peaceful, too pretty, and too hard to ignore! 

So, I returned to my desk, which I share with the rest of the family (Hey!  Where’s the stapler?  Who put it here?  Who emptied the stapler?  Where’s the spare pack of staples?  Oh forget it, I’ll use a paper clip.  Alright, where have all the damned paperclips disappeared to?!), and straight away I was back in full production mode.  In spite of being hampered, harried, interrupted and harassed at every turn. 

I’ve become used to squeezing out a few hundred words here and there, in between rushing children about, renovating or repairing things around our house, and when not out and about in the car, motorbike, pushbike, or boat, then I’m generally up to my ears servicing them.  Then there is the major distraction that is shiftwork.  Large chunks of time are taken up with my regular job.  I dream of a time when my job is sitting down at my desk everyday and scribbling to my hearts content, but I’ve got a feeling that this ‘perfect scenario’ may not be what works for me.  I’ve got this niggling feeling that I NEED that pressure to produce.  It’s what drives me.  Pushing myself to stay awake when dog tired, writing, editing, re-editing, and jotting down ideas.       

I’m reminded of several stories where authors have written entire novels either in cafés, small tables propped up in laundries, or hidden away in some small space, then when they have cracked the big time, move into a proper office, with a view, nice furniture, peace and quiet, AND, a comfy leather chair, then suddenly find themselves unable to produce.  It’s only when they return to their original miserable surroundings that inspiration and motivation returns.  

Which makes me think, that perhaps I’ve already found my best writing environment.  I wish I could find the staples…

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