My Writing Space

Have you read the advice to find a quiet spot and develop regular writing habits? Does it suit you? It is not what’s needed by all writers.

I am lucky enough to live on my own, so every room is potentially a writing space, including the garden and my summer house. And I write in both of these from time to time, as well as in the kitchen – as close to the doings for making coffee as I can get for my morning pages.

I mostly write in my studio. The Guardian did a feature about David Hare in which he referred to his writing studio. Ah – good name. The word studio lends an element of work, creativity, and older works propped against the wall. I call my loft space, my writing studio. What’s in a name? It also gets called office, study or writing room.

123 studio

My studio

I like to control noise in my surroundings, quiet at times, radio or CDs playing at others. Nothing incenses me so much as the barking of my neighbour’s dogs.

I’m not a very tidy writer. I sit at a much-marked Habitat pine table which I have owned for more than 30 years. It holds up piles of papers, pots of pens, my lap top, a light. I preserve my back with an ergonomic kneeling chair from the Backshop.

123 Writing wall

The noticeboards

In front of the table is my noticeboard, which I use like a notebook. On is for photos. The other holds the schedule for reading, blog posts, some photos, and the odd inspirational saying.

Tell me, what do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

(Mary Oliver.)

There are several postcards, one of Cornelia Parker’s exploded shed, another some books by Rachel Whiteread. And an annotated post card from a Berlin museum:

Of all the worlds created by wo/man the world of BOOKS is the most powerful.

(Heinrich Heine.)

I’ve pinned up several copies of the Guardian Bookshop bestseller list, in which our book Retiring with Attitude has been featured for several weeks. That spot used to be occupied by encouraging e-mails from our editor. The most recent is a month old, however. I don’t think I even notice these things anymore. I’m not much of a believer in motivational notes to self.

123 viewMy view

It’s a loft room and the view is divine – out over the roofs and trees of my village. On a fine day you can see Dartmoor. But this is Devon, so it rains a lot. I know it’s there. Sometimes when I am walking on Dartmoor I look back and imagine I can see the windows of my studio. ‘That’s where I write,’ I say to myself.



A blog: TanGental The place where I write. It’s a personalised desk.

And see the advice by Irene Waters Writing Tips: Starting the flow about the undisturbed place in which to write, quoting John Creswell’s book Research Design.

There is an interest in where writers write. The Guardian ran a series about writer’s spaces, and these appeared now and again in Nicholas Royle’s novel First Novel.

This blog was a response to a suggestion by Norah Colvin. Can you learn anything from this? Is your writing space important to you?


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Filed under Books, Writing

8 Responses to My Writing Space

  1. Funny thing Caroline, I barely remember making the suggestion, but I’m pleased I did! This is a lovely insight into your “space” as a writer. My writing desk has been with me for over 30 years also. It’s rather large though and I will be sad to leave it when, one day day in the unplanned future, we have to downsize. I agree with you that ‘studio’ definitely has a creative ring to it. So does summer house. How positively delightful and enticing. My desk is in the study. Once I did study at it, but now I just do lots of reading, writing and learning. The view from your window, when it is there, is gorgeous, but not as much as the thought of you looking back for it when you are out walking and thinking that that is where you do your writing. 🙂
    Oh, and thank you for linking to my blog. 🙂

    • Caroline

      Glad you like the word studio – although I always feel it’s a bit pretenious, but I avoid using air quotes when i say it. I only say studio with friends! Otherwise its my loft!
      Thanks for the positive response. It is a lovely place to live and work. I’ve just come back from a few days in London (see next post for one adventure I had with co-writer Eileen) and as always it’s just beautiful. And yesterday my grandson (5yrs) led us on a nature trail to hunt for bees, spiders and such things. Such pleasure!

  2. Thanks for showing us your writing space, Caroline. Looks a lovely place to write. I was intrigued by your kneeling chair as I bought one (also blue) several years ago but have never managed to get to grips with it. Now it sits mocking me in the corner of another room – an expensive mistake I ought to think about finding a better home for. At the moment, I’m doing a lot of my computer work standing but of course the desk is at the wrong height – and I do like my glass desk. So had to find the right combination – good for you that you’ve done so.

  3. Another inspiring blog – thank you Caroline! My writing seems to be taking a holiday at the moment, but normally happens at my dining table. I’m reflecting that it’s my music room that really has the attributes of a studio and gets the attention such a space merits. But writing does feel a more portable activity and this morning I’ll be doing a couple of hours with a group at Birdwood House in Totnes. Very glad to hear the book’s selling – when we meet I’ll tell you about a celebrity reader who picked up my India book in the town recently…

    • Caroline

      Hi Jon, I can see what you mean about portable writing. On the train, in a cafe, on a bench in a park, waiting at the station … Very pleased you are going to write this morning. Hope it goes well. And the music.
      And tell tell about the celebrity reader… Cant’s wait to see you.
      Thanks for comments as always.

  4. I found your site this morning while looking for a 1979 feminist argument from Spare Rib, and have now just taken 25 minutes of precious ‘writing time’ cruising round the internet…. FATAL for output. I will sign off now, but liked your site. Well done. I never seem to have time to blog. Sometimes on Twitter… Best wishes.

    • Caroline

      Thanks for dropping by. ANd for your positive comments about the site. And as for chasing Spare Rib …have done it myself for this blog.
      Please come by again.

  5. Eileen

    I’m writing in bed and it’s gone 11am. And I don’t feel guilty – the theme of the morning. It is pouring with rain and a bit chilly. And Smudge is sleeping next to me. It is only that a meeting at Tate was cancelled that I have this luxury.
    I need to write in several different spaces to give my back lots of different positions including standing up as Annecdotist suggests, using a bookcase to get the right height. I have just bought a very expensive chair – giving me the opposite sort of support that the kneeling ones offer. My workroom is my usual place for writing where I am surrounded by all my lovely things.
    It is so nice to think of you in your studio writing to me and with me and replying to me. Thanks and enjoy, love e x

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