Monday, 6 December 2010

Location, location, location


I’ve got a very comfortable office at home. It’s a bit of a mess, admittedly, but I’ve long adapted to just averting my eyes from certain corners, like the one filled with a tottering pile of used padded envelopes [damn, I just looked directly at it]. But despite that, I have a good desk, a comfortable chair and a fairly decent computer. There’s the brilliant Spotify to satisfy all my musical needs and it takes just five minutes to pop downstairs for a cup of Earl Grey and a chocolate biscuit or five. If I get stuck for inspiration, I can take a walk in the beautiful park my house backs onto. Perfect, right? Hell, who wouldn’t get a whole ton of work done somewhere like that?!

Um, me...?

Even though I have everything I need right here, sometimes I know the only way I’m going to get words down on the screen is to get out. My number one favourite writing desination is the British Library. Laura Nelson guest posted on Strictly once before about the BL, but I think it deserves a bit more praise. I went for a day there last week, which always involves a bit of domestic rearrangement and upheaval to organise, but the minute I walked into the Humantities Reading Room, I felt an almost chemical sense of peace descend on me and was ready to write my heart out.

If you live within any reasonable distance of London and are wondering about checking it out, it might be useful to hear how it all works. The Reading Rooms are only accessible if you have a reader’s ticket. But writing a book is usually enough reason to be granted one. There’s also a mezzanine area which everyone can use. Here there are a number of seats with tables and somewhere to plug in your laptop. But be warned: these seats are at a premium and people queue to get them first thing in the morning. They’re all usually taken within about ten minutes.

If I can’t get to the BL, I might go to a cafe with a notebook or my laptop instead, which is very much a second best option but can still sometimes help me feel a bit more productive.

So if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired, try changing your writing location. Sometimes a change of scene is enough to get your creative juices flowing again.

8 comments:

Helen Black said...

It's interesting Caroline that you find the BL so inspiring.
Don't the other visitors bother you?
I have the concentration span of a peanut and end up nosing at everyone around me if I am anywhere but locked away at home.
HBx

Roderic Vincent said...

The BL is a magical place, but sometimes I find the proximity of all those unread (by me) books a little daunting.

Glad you are forging ahead, wherever you are.

Sonya said...

I work from home most of the time but agree that, just for the sake of keeping my sanity, it's good to find other places where I can work too. Local cafes with free broadband tend to do the trick. Sadly, even though I live in London, i've never made it to the BL. Research for a few book chapters coming might just draw me to it. I'd certainly want to give it a try.

Mary Vaughn said...

Our old library was full of floor to ceiling shelves, library ladders and spiral staircases and a lot of beautiful oak. The new one is rather cold - actually and figuratively. I research there but don't find it inspiring.
My sun porch and the park offer me more.

Caroline Green said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.

Helen, I do get distracted by gawping at other people, but not half as much as the ditraction from at the internet when I work at home...!

Helen Black said...

Now that is sooooo true, Caroline.
HBx

Debs Riccio said...

Excellent post, Caroline - and what a fab idea - the reading room in the BL sounds lovely, I wish it was round MY corner too!

Kath said...

Very jealous of your proximity to the library. I settle for cafes and find the shift in space a real boost. Plus, of course, there's the fact that I can't do anything about that pile of laundry and won't have to answer the phone or the door to well meaning but essentially non-writing friends who see my presence in the house as the perfect reason to call by to chew the fat. Somebody else brews and fetches the tea when I need it, and I am there with a single purpose, which helps to focus the fingers on the keyboard. Plus, whatever else I do that day I feel as though I've been out amongst other people, even if I don't talk to them! Oh, but the library sounds nice...