Where do you write?

As regular readers will know, I have a horror of ritualisation. The habits and processes that writers use to gear themselves up to write must be useful, not damaging, and one of the most damaging I know of is the need to be in a certain place, at a certain time, with certain accessories, before you can write.

Ritualisation itself is not bad, in fact it’s a positive process, like the creative visualisation that dancers and athletes use to prepare for intense performances. If you can see yourself writing strongly and confidently in your mind’s eye, then you are more likely to sit down and write with fluency and aplomb. If, on the other hand, you see yourself having to make a cup of coffee, drink half of it, read the leader in the Telegraph, check your emails and open the post before you can write, then anything that throws that process out of joint will throw your writing out of the window. No coffee? No writing. Email programme crashes? No writing. And so on.

So I write in bed for half an hour every morning when I wake up. I write on the bus. I write in cafes. I write in hotels and on trains and, especially, in airports. I do write at my desk for hours every day, but all those other places are encompassed in my writing ritual too. I write in Moleskins, I write in shorthand pads, I have even been known to write on the back of Pizza Express order pads and a story that won me $250 saw the light of day on the inner front cover of a cheap crossword book in Paradise Park amusement centre—it was the only paper to hand and the pen I used was lent to me by the bingo caller!

And this is The End of the Lanes, possibly the best hot chocolate shop in the UK, and that’s my notebook, containing the first draft of a(nother) radio play. Write anywhere? Yes. But write better when I’m drinking hot chocolate, waiting for a friend, and gazing out at Brighton’s wonderfully eccentric population. Always!

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