Today on the blog, I am pleased to welcome Robin Stevens, author or the highly successful Wells and Wong books. Robin has written a post that clearly shows if you really want to write, you will write anywhere!
Most ‘where I write’ posts are glorious things. Writing rooms! Writing sheds! Colour-coordinated notebooks and Anglepoise lights and coffee cups with inspirational quotes. It’s wonderfully jealous-making in an aspirational way, and so I’m very sorry to tell you that if you’re reading this post for that kind of experience, you’re going to come away disappointed.
Because the place I write, where the Murder Most Unladylike Mysteries are first created . . . looks like this.
Actually, that’s on a good day, when I get a seat. Sometimes, it looks like this.
These lovely pictures are from my daily commuter train, and this is where I write because this is how I get to work. It always surprises people when I tell them this, but the fact is that I’m not a full-time writer. I actually have another full-time job, as Assistant Editor at Egmont, and so writing is something I do in my time off. I’ve got a very small window of time (35 minutes each way) to get my daily words down, and that time pressure is extremely useful. The more time I have, the more I waste (I know this from trying to write on weekends) – when I hardly have any, I can’t afford not to use it wisely.
People usually react with horror at the thought of writing a book sitting on the floor, squashed between some woman’s handbag and some other guy’s slightly smelly cycling rucksack. But there’s something about it that I find weirdly enjoyable. It feels like a challenge – it quite literally turns writing into a problem that I have to solve. And it also reminds me that writing, especially the first draft, is all about bashing words out. To meet deadlines you’ve got to very unglamorously just get on with it, even on days when you’re not particularly inspired (and also squashed in the luggage rack next to the loos).
And if you’re looking for peaceful silence and a total lack of internet connectivity, I highly recommend a commuter train at 8am. There aren’t any distractions, or noise, or even much light during the winter months – it’s actually an almost perfect writing cocoon. I’ve had to teach myself to close myself off from the people around me, and not mind whether they read over my shoulder. Actually, I doubt anyone even notices what I’m doing. Even though we’re all squashed up together, we’re all in our own little worlds.
I can get about 500 words done in each 35 minute slot, enough to get the first draft of a book written in three or four months if I keep at it every day. Yes, it’s full on, but I can’t complain at all. I don’t even really feel as though it’s work. It’s way too much fun. So, here’s to writing on the floor, or in the luggage rack, or wedged into a seat next to a man with a perilously open and wobbling cup of coffee. Wherever I end up each morning becomes my own little space – and that’s really all I need.
I adore this post! I feel quite wasteful with my time now after reading this.
The first two books in the Wells and Wong series are already available to buy. The third book, First Class Murder will be published this June by Corgi.
To find out more about Robin Stevens: