What's your setup for writing?

setup.JPG   Excuses excuses! I just couldn't get back into the book I was writing. For some reason I couldn't bear to work on it at my usual workstation. And this seemed ridiculous. Embarrassing. Hypocritical. A sign of moral weakness.
You never saw anyone so spoiled, what with the Aeron chair, the MacBook and the 17-inch screen, not to mention the urban view with pohutukawa, and coffee in the kitchen downstairs. And yet I simply found it impossible to sit at my workstation and tackle my current, rather frivolous writing project.

This location, no matter how excellent, is saturated with a sense of duty. If I'm in the Aeron, I should be Working at Something Serious and Scheduled—not a fun book. And email and the Web are always there, waiting to pounce.

I thought a teensy Asus Eee-PC would solve the problem. After all, you can use them anywhere. I'm sorry to report a mutual dislike has developed between the Asus and me. Now I'm prepared to take it to conferences and that's about it.

Finally I set aside the Easter break for real writing. My "old" PowerBook (told you I was spoiled) came back from three months in Antarctica, where it was on loan to my son Ben.

I chose my new writing spot: a shelf in a store room (spoiled). Elevated the PowerBook on the Kodansha Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Japan (spoiled), shut the door to the study (spoiled) and stood in front of it half the weekend.  Result: 4 new chapters drafted. No sweat. Just like the good old days. Now that's what I call being spoiled.
What a revelation: setup is far more important than I'd imagined.  I must have written around 30 books in my day, so you would think a little case of writer's block would be easily sorted. And so it was, once I found the right spot to write in.

Don't be too hard on yourself if you find you can't get cracking on a writing project. There are genuine barriers, and one of them is finding the right setup.

Your ideal setup could be the back doorstep, with a pencil and one of those great little hard-cover exercise books. Or a slight adjustment to your office. Or a shelf in a store-room. One of my friends writes her novels while house-sitting: now I understand why.


Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine

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3 Comments

Mike Riversdale
Mike Riversdale

March 28, 2008

finding the right setup – ooooh, how true.
I generally work awesomely, at home, between the hours of 10am-3pm. Outside of that I can find an excuse … actually, no it’s not finding an excuse it’s forcing the issue and whilst the one side of the brain knows ‘I should’ the other is saying ‘I can’t … now/here’

Stephen King’s book, “On Writing” [Amazon] has a cracking chapter on just that

rachel
rachel

March 28, 2008

And Stephen King should know! What games we play inside our brains.

Words on a page » Where do you write?
Words on a page » Where do you write?

March 28, 2008

[…] Over at the Contented blog, Rachel McAlpine talks about her setup for writing. Her optimal writing area may surprise you. […]

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