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Your writing zone

Where do you write? You’ve probably seen those articles in the newspapers about ‘writers’ rooms’. It’s almost as if there’s a magic to the physical space where a writer writes.
Pictures of a writer’s room usually feature personal items: photos pinned to the wall, objects collected on travels, gifts from other writers. Perhaps even, at this time of year, we can imagine a sprig of holly on top of that meaningful ethnic carving that sits shyly on the desk.

All those things are important. I enjoy writing in my own study at home, surrounded by objects that matter to me. I sit at a desk without a computer (that’s in another room) because I always produce first drafts using a pencil on paper.

But the place itself is not everything. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to think we can write only when surrounded by the personal talismans of our craft. If so, we might invite the opposite result from the one we seek: we might just be beckoning writer’s block to come and join us.

What matters is finding the right zone, but the zone is inside our heads. I’ve written in 26 ways of looking at a blackberry of techniques that I use to find that zone.

My tips for finding such a zone include:

  • a physical change of location,
  • a burst of automatic writing,
  • going for a run.

Doing any of these activities I often find myself in a different mental zone where ideas and words are flowing much more easily. And when I’m in that zone, I’m not always aware of it.
It’s a wonderful feeling when you realise afterwards that you’ve been there. I think it’s part of the addiction of being a writer. So do you have a favourite writing zone, and is it a physical space or a state of mind?

John Simmons is author of 26 Ways of Looking at a Blackberry published by Bloomsbury. Elected to the Board of the Poetry Society.

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