Thursday 8 November 2018

Happy holiday writing by Keren David

I've done some of my best writing in swimming pools.

Not (alas) my local public swimming pool, the one with yelling children and floating plasters. No, for inspiration to strike mid-swim, the sky needs to be blue, the water clear and warm, and a comfortable hotel room waiting for me to get my  ideas down on paper or laptop.

In a swimming pool in Madeira, I effortlessly composed four entire chapters. By the side of another in Majorca, I worked out the entire structure of the book I was writing.

Last week, I was in Eilat (a freebie from my day job!) with the sea on one side and the desert on the other. I'd been trying all month to write a new version of my musical, but the words just wouldn't come. What a difference once I got to the  poolside bar.  I got out my laptop, and the words flowed. It was fun. It was easy. Why can't writing always feel like this, I asked myself. 

View from my hotel room in Eilat 

Now, obviously, the answer is that a holiday provides ideal writing conditions because you are removed from your everyday life. You don't need to think about the day job, or the household chores. Your mind is clear, your body is relaxed, your powers of creativity and concentration are hugely enhanced. Writing stops being a job that you do on top of all your other jobs. It's far easier to focus.

What's more your brain is being fed by new sights and experiences. In Lisbon (where I wrote a good chunk of The Liar's Handbook) there was art. In Seville, flamenco. Even Eilat, which is not the most cultural place I've ever been to, offered dolphins and feral cats. At home it's easy to get into a rut, too busy and too skint to go to museums, galleries and the theatre. On holiday it's not like that. 

The problem is, that holidays are expensive, and time is limited. I can't book myself a week in Majorca every time I have a book to structure. But I can  -  and I think I will from now on -  plan a cut price retreat. I once was lucky enough to borrow a friend's flat in Bournemouth to write a chunk of a novel. It worked. I wrote most of the first draft of my book Salvage between Carlisle's Travelodge and Nando's. At the very least I can take myself off to a cafe, rather than gaze at my laptop in my kitchen, constantly distracted by (not so feral) cats, calls and cooking. 

My sister is planning to move abroad next year. Sun, sand, sunshine -  and a spare room. I'm already looking at flights.  


Stroppy Author said...

We should have ABBA house swaps/house sits so that every time one of us goes away, another can have this benefit too!

Sheena Wilkinson said...

Here's one I did earlier!