News room: 7 Unusual Writing Places of Famous Authors

7 Unusual Writing Places of Famous Authors by Jessica Barrah

When space is tight at home, or you just need to get away from your family or flatmates to write, then don’t despair. Well known writers with the same problem have come up with some ingenious solutions for you.

1. Train of Thought

Commuting is an essential, if boring, part of the day for many people, but for John le Carré it was a great opportunity to write. Le Carré transformed tedious train rides to work from Buckinghamshire to London writing his debut novel, Call for the Dead.
Drawbacks: Travel sickness, overcrowding, loud and repetitive announcements.
Consider also: A circular trip on the Underground, a day pass on a bus network.

2. Park & Write

Gertrude Stein avoided tiresome shopping expeditions by dropping off her partner, Alice B. Toklas, then parking up her Model T Ford to write. I’ve also taken advantage of the car’s soporific effect on my two young children, driving around until they drop off, then returning home and parking outside the house (connected to my home wifi).
Drawbacks: Lack of parking spots – you may spend the whole time looking for a space.
Consider also: Sending your whole family out in the car while you stay at home to write.

3. Blue Sky Thinking

Nottingham born D.H. Lawrence loved writing al fresco, leaning on pine trees in New Mexico and great firs in Germany’s Black Forest. “The trees are like living company,” said Lawrence. Living company, it should be said, who don’t tend to chatter on.
Drawbacks: Seasonal, and dependent on weather. It’s probably a lot drier in New Mexico than Nottingham Forest.
Consider also: Buying a tent/fishing shelter for rainy days.

4. Get a Room

Maya Angelou wrote in hotel rooms, requesting that everything be removed from the walls, in order to avoid distractions. She brought note pads, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Bible in order to write, plus sherry and cigarettes for a little ‘down time’.
Drawbacks: Drinking the entire contents of the minibar may temporarily inspire you, but you may later find you were writing gibberish.
Consider also: Writing at a friend’s house whilst they’re out. Resist the temptation to snoop around or eat their snacks.

5. Think Inside the Box

Dame Edith Sitwell chose to write lying down in an open coffin, finding inspiration in the morbidly close confines of the casket.
Drawbacks: Lying down, it’s very easy to fall asleep. Take care not to be mistaken for a corpse and buried alive. Coffins can also be quite expensive.
Consider also: Biodegradable cardboard caskets. Save money by ordering a few small items from Amazon, then use the wildly excessive packaging to make your very own ‘Writing Coffin’ ™.

6. Write of Way

During the 2.5 miles stroll to the offices of the insurance firm where where he was vice president, Wallace Stevens composed poetry, saying “I write best when I can concentrate, and do that best while walking.”
Drawbacks: It may be fine for poetry, but it’s hard to compose a novel when walking.
Consider also: Using a dictaphone with a wireless headset while walking jogging, even riding a bike – but swimming might be taking it too far.

7. Cafe Culture

JK Rowling famously wrote the first Harry Potter book in an Edinburgh cafe. Taking her baby out for a walk was the best way to get her to fall asleep, and then she could carry on writing in a cafe.
Drawbacks: It may be hard to find a seat amongst all the freelancers and young mums with huge buggies/laptops writing potential bestsellers.
Consider also: Writing in a library.

Further reading:

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Written by
Jessica Barrah
Published on
Writing, Authors, Famous, and Places