Claire King


Where’s your garret?

Posted on: May 16th, 2010 by Claire - 14 Comments

It turns out I’m profoundly influenced by where I write.

I know there are those of you who can take your laptop into the toilet and edit a whole chapter while your children bang on the door asking for their pencils to be sharpened. I am utterly is awe of those writers. You amaze me. But I can’t do that. I write unspeakable nonsense and I snap pencils.

I had noticed that I write better on trains. There is something about the solitude and the scrolling scenery that sends me into the trippy autopilot of free writing. But I still thought I was doing pretty well at home. I only realised my need for a clean, bright bubble to write in while on holiday recently at my parents’ house. They live on a Scottish Island, up on a cliff top, looking out over the sea. I had set myself a holiday writing target, so once a day I took my laptop up into my ‘garret’ and wrote. The silence had a sea view. Without fail, after 45 minutes I’d hit my 1000 words, and those words were good! Sometimes I’d round off to an hour and get another 500 in the last 15 minutes. For some of you that might be standard productivity but that would normally take me up to 3 hours at home.

It turns out that I need to be alone. Even having my husband quietly working a few feet away at his own desk vastly reduces my concentration and creative process. Plus I’m not the tidiest of people. Clutter is not my friend, but certainly a close neighbour. So, I built myself a garret. OK, that’s rather a grand way of saying I put a small wooden table and chair at the far end of the room, by the terrace doors:

My garret

This is my place for writing. No paying bills, no emails, no Twitter, zero distractions.  It’s not the most comfortable chair in the house, but all the more reason to work fast. Our office/den is already up in the attic, sloping roof and all and my new garret is only 5m from my desk, but for me and my writing it’s like being in another world.

Where do you write?

14 Responses

  1. Jeff Eyamie says:

    No distractions????? Not for a prairie dog like me.

    Other than the divine vista in your visual, I totally agree. My day job cubicle is my favorite spot. I need confinement.

  2. Martha says:

    I write in a ball of screwed-up paper, gum, crisps, popcorn, tumble-dust (where dust bunnies grow to the size of small deer and gallumph about roly-poly style) and bits of dismembered power ranger), plus or minus super glue.
    If I look at the sea (which I can) then I go kayaking or diving etc. Hopeless. No, I need squalor. And the curtains drawn. My inner troglodyte has all the writing skills in this bag o’ bones.
    But the perfume I wear, and the coffee I drink, are pivotal to a good story. It’s all about smell for me. Wet dog is a slushpile surety – to whip out a cracker, it’s got to smell nice.

  3. Nora Lumiere says:

    I love writing and sleeping on trains. But trains are so fast these days you barely have time for a nap or a paragraph.
    Your garret looks marvelous even though the scenery doesn’t move. Hope it makes the words pour out.

  4. Great post – I love knowing where other writers write. I’ve just returned from a housewarming in a lovely flat on the top floor of an old building. There was a tiny room at the top of the attic stairs, really no bigger than a cupboard with a skylight. Other guests said, what can you do with this? My husband and I (both writers) chorused – it’s a perfect writing nest!

  5. Marisa Birns says:

    Wow. Your writing place has such a beautiful view.

    Until we move from this small apartment, I tend to write at the dining room table.

    I also take many hours to write 1k words or so.

    And clutter always loves to hang out with me!

  6. K.M. Weiland says:

    That’s gorgeous! How interesting that you write on trains. Sounds lovely, but I have a feeling I’d get just as trainsick as I do carsick!

  7. claire says:

    Thanks for all your comments. It’s so interesting how we need to write in different environments: raw nature or a cubicle, everything at hand or nothing at all. I hadn’t thought about the other senses either, Martha. It seems what is important is just knowing what makes us tick.

  8. i couldn’t write with a view like this. i have the tiniest space only: a small kauri desk i brought from NZ which barely fits my mac book pro and a pile of white sheets for notes and i look at paintings by my daughter and a photo of ms flawnt. but i hardly ever look at them. my other writing place on the weekend is a cabin and here i enjoy a look into the garden where ms flawnt and little miss flawnt are slaving away while i think mighty thoughts. just once in a while a guilt feeling touches me, alas, and my castles comes tumbling down…

  9. ajbarnett says:

    I tend to write in the lounge – whilst my wife is watching TV. Not the best place, but if I disappear I feel guilty.

  10. Charlie says:

    My writing is more technical than literature – it’s code, not prose. I have yet to discover my ideal writing environment: I have often stared at a blank screen, or wandered off into facebook, when in a calm, clean place and with an ordered desk.

    By contrast, some of my best code has been written at 01h30 at a messy desk, fuelled by cold coffee and after a day of being shouted at by two-year-olds.

    Ho, as they say, hum.

  11. e.lee says:

    I write in my bedroom, on the floor
    perhaps it recreates my days as a student but I find it best for creativity. Especially with tea

  12. claire says:

    I love the bedroom floor idea. It reminds me of student days too.

  13. […] I used the kids sleeping time (in the summer holidays, this is slim pickings indeed) but despite my very scenic garret my thoughts seemed hemmed in. Where was the spark of creativity?  I decided that I was just too […]

  14. […] Here! […]

Leave a Reply to dirtywhitecandy