My plans to take you on a photographic armchair trip to the Azores and Portugal in my blog this month have been thwarted by the cancellation of my cruise due to the current crisis. All I can offer is a tour of my writing place – my study.
If I’m honest, it’s rarely as tidy as this. I had to spend a good couple of hours removing the assorted clutter that accumulates on nearly every surface and especially on the stretch of worktop opposite my desk. Rather than using my usual tidy up method – shove everything in a convenient drawer or cupboard (which inevitably means it takes forever to find anything again) – I decided to find a ‘home’ for everything, including the bin for those bits of paper with cryptic reminders that no longer make any sense. Having said that, the number of things on my to do list has grown somewhat. How long my study will stay like this is another matter. Scraps of paper accumulate on my desk like confetti – references I discover as I search the web to explore later, and ideas that occur when I’m in the middle of doing one thing that I need to do later and might otherwise forget.
There’s room for a big desk, bookcase (admittedly relatively small, but I do have a wall of book shelves in the spare bedroom), filing cabinet and – the main reason we swapped studies – a large area where I can spin my chair round and spread out all my research books and anything I need to do by hand, such as draw spider diagrams or map out possible ideas on paper. That’s the theory, but as I said, it quickly becomes a dumping ground.
On the original architect’s plans, this room was intended to be the kitchen. We bought the house because of the wonderful view at the back over the lake and up to the Downs.
There was no way I was going to spend time at the kitchen sink staring at next door’s blank wall.
The only disadvantage I have now is that my study is the only route out to the back door and the garage, which means it can be a bit of a thoroughfare at times. It also explains why my worktop becomes the dumping ground for all sorts of things.
Almost all my writing is done on my PC. I do have a small laptop which is ideal for when I give presentations to local groups and when I’m on a lecture cruise. Another reason I prefer my PC is because I use two monitors – one to write and the other for my research notes and various other things without having to leave my manuscript. It’s the most useful writing aid I have. I’ve tried using Scrivener (quick check on the other monitor because I’d forgotten the name of the software) but prefer to good old Microsoft Word. I also use Excel to keep track of what is happening in the plot of my novel – this is where my second monitor comes into its own. I can quickly check on what and when events occurred earlier in the plot without having to keep leaving my work in progress.
In case you’re wondering, the little figure sitting on monitor 2 was given to me when I did NaNoWriMo a few years ago. According to our group coordinator, it was designed to perch on top of my monitor to be a reminder to keep at it and spur me on.
My desk gives me plenty of space around the keyboard for any research books I need to have open, notes etc. The window gives me plenty of light though it can be a problem in the early afternoon when the sun shines in directly making it difficult to read the screen.
The view might not have the charm of the back of the house, but it can provide its own distractions.
I love to get your messages so do please keep them coming. What is your most useful writing aid? Do let me know.
Thanks to all of you who have supported me. I do hope all is well with you in these dark times when so many problems beset us.