I am a creature of habit. It took me a long time to adapt to writing on a word processor, instead of long hand in pencil in the back of note books.
Once I had adapted, though, I had a new routine. I created for myself a ‘writing corner’ around my computer. Wherever we’ve lived over the last twenty years, I had to have a ‘writing corner’ (I would like a whole room, but we’ve never lived in a place big enough). And I decided I couldn’t do any writing unless I was in my ‘writing corner’.
This was all well and good in the days of desktop PCs, which weren’t mobile. But when SUFFER THE CHILDREN took 10 years to write, I was using far too often the excuse that I had no time to write because I wasn’t in my ‘writing corner’. A few years ago, my husband bought me a lap top, in an attempt to encourage me to write more often. I decided I didn’t like writing on the laptop because it took me out of my comfort zone. I bought myself a cradle for it, and set it up on the computer desk with a separate mouse and keyboard plugged into it. I could write on it then, because it was in my ‘writing corner’, which defeated the whole purpose of having a laptop.
And then, a couple of years ago, he bought me a NetBook. And with the arrival of the publishing contract, I had to change my thinking. I could no longer afford to spend months and years away from the writing. I had to be more than a one trick pony (or, indeed, one book author). I always complain about the day job getting in the way of writing time. But since giving up the day job is not a feasible option (at least not yet), the alternative was to try and find time to write around the day job. I had to get used to writing on the NetBook, and get out of my head the idea that the only place I could write was at home in my ‘writing corner’.
And I have to say I have finally made some progress in disabusing myself of this notion. The NetBook keyboard took some getting used to – I am a touch typist, and the keys are so close together it is easy to hit the wrong one – but now that I have, I am getting quite adept at carrying the NetBook around with me and writing in places other than my ‘writing corner’. I sit in Starbucks and bash away for an hour or so before work a couple of days a week. Sometimes I even take the NetBook on holiday and set up camp in the hotel lobby to get some writing in.
In theory I have time on the train on my daily commute that could be put to good use writing, but in practise that’s not going to happen. First of all, I don’t always have a seat on my train. Secondly, we are all packed in so tightly if I tried writing on the NetBook I would have several people who could see over my shoulder. Writing on the move is one thing but having someone watch me write is seriously off-putting.
But there are plenty of other places where I could get some writing time in with the NetBook, and after 20 years of the ‘writing corner’ I am once more getting used to writing on the move. It is, after all, going back to the beginning. Before the days of computers, when I wrote in notebooks, I used to be able to write anywhere. Why it’s taken me so long to go back to that, I have no idea. As I say, I’m a creature of habit. But I am learning that habits can be changed.