In my view writing should be like masturbating – best done in the privacy of your own home. Though nowadays with the advent of the internet, and with CCTV everywhere, in might be a little difficult for both occupation in that respect. Although many writers eschew the notion of writing in a garret – what ever that may be. J K Rowling springs to mind; she famously is said to have written most of her first Harry Potter book in an Edinburgh cafe. I expect the multi-millionaire is a bot more discreet these days!
My own idea of a ‘garret’? Just a small room with a desk, laptop, my books etc, that I call my den. It’s kind of claustrophobic, but I like it like that, I feel it helps me concentrate – if it was big and airy and too comfortable I might be tempted to do nothing at all! Ernest Hemingway had it about right: ‘There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.‘Papa at work.
Well, maybe I don’t bleed, but sometimes it feels like it. You can’t sit there waiting for inspiration to come but that blank page can be mesmerizing at times ; the longer you stare at it the less inclined the words are to appear. Hemingway always left a piece of his previous day’s work unfinished so that he had something to begin the new day with. I try to do that as much as possible myself; failing that I write any old rubbish that comes into my head to kick-start my thought processes. It’s a bit like a car with a dodgy battery; once I’m up and running I chug along okay.
I never write for more than a couple of hours at a stretch. Then I may read for a while or go for a walk. I also like to listen to other people; on buses, on trains, in the shops; you can get some great lines for use in your work. Most people never listen; they are too busy talking.
Nowadays I type directly on to my laptop, but when I started twenty years ago all I had was a cheap typewriter, a Smith Corona I think it was. These days I don’t know how I managed with such primitive equipment! There is no excuse for sloppy writing in today’s world; all the facilities are there at the touch of a button for editing, spell-checking etc. All the high tech improvements may not make one a better writer but they certainly make writing easier.