Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Evolving Writing Spaces by Chitra Soundar

 My writing space has evolved over the last fifteen years of my writing life. I always had a desk (which was really for my computer) and used to write there. For me going to that desk meant I had changed roles from executive or sister or daughter to writer.

While I write in notebooks by longhand a lot, especially the first drafts of my picture books, I still like to do revisions and the edits on my computer. I almost never write more than the first chapter of a longer story in my notebook. My typing is definitely faster than my longhand writing and I want to get the words down before they slip away from my brain.

The other thing I used to do a lot especially when I was working full time at the day job, was writing in coffee shops, libraries, on trains and parks. But nowadays I realise, as I have gotten older, I prefer to write at home than anywhere else. While I can block out all noise and write in a coffee shop or a library, the sheer effort of going from one quiet place (which is my flat) to another not-so-quiet place with travel and standing in the queue to buy an espresso behind someone who’s buying a skinny latte decaf with almond milk and chocolate on top, feels counter-productive.

The fact that I write from five in the morning till eleven also means writing at home is far more convenient. I don’t have to change out of my pyjamas until my writing is done and I can have as many coffees I want (although I do only one), without a queue or a foamy flower on top.

My writing space preferences have also changed since I’ve been travelling a lot more and relying on my laptop than desktop. I’ve hardly used my desktop Mac in a year or two and I like the convenience of my laptop. That also has freed me from the desk. I write on the sofa, or on my bed propped up by pillows. Even when I do write at the desk, I stand up write as my table can rise higher when I want to do that.

I used to dream about writing sheds and comfy sofas, a bookshelf on the side, a fire in the corner and such. But I realise I’m most comfortable in my living space – especially because I live alone and I am always near a power point for my phone and laptop and the Wi-Fi is of good strength. And of course setting up a shed inside a London flat might not be a good idea anyway. Unless of course, I can build a tiny one and I can shrink myself to enter a new world full of imaginary people.

Because I’ve changed from desk to bed/sofa writer, I’ve been looking at ergonomic ideas that could help me. Just a word of caution – I’m not recommending or endorsing any of the below. I just want to share some of the research I’m doing to improve my writing space.

Here are a couple of examples of a prop-up pillow or wedges as they are called – for reading or writing.

And here are some tables that go up or down and help you write sitting down or standing up. 

I also checked out some famous people to see where they write. Here is a wonderful selection of American writers and poets and their writing spaces.

So has your writing space evolved? If so why? Are you still comfortable at the kitchen table or the sofa or do you prefer a white noise environment like a coffee shop or library? Tell us all about it. 


Saviour Pirotta said...

What a brilliant post. I tend to write ideas down and plan my stories in coffee shops. I too live alone and I like the buzz of public places when planning. When I'm doing the writing proper, though, I have to be at home. I have a second laptop hooked up to a flat widescreen monitor. I also need total silence in this part of the proceedings, so I always have a pair of ear plugs to hand.

Sue Purkiss said...

I'm lucky enough to have a shed. It just feels right in there - I don't know what it is about it.

Chitra Soundar said...

See we are all so different, yet we all have favourite places. Thanks for sharing about your spaces.

Anne Booth said...

This is really helpful. I'm going to have a look at your links - that pillow looks good. Thank you.