Writing Processes – Part 10: Mobile Writing

I am a creature of habit, as I’ve mentioned many times before. It took me long enough to adapt to writing on a word processor, instead of long hand in pencil in the back of note books.

Once I had adapted, though, I had a new routine. I created for myself a ‘writing corner’ around my computer. Wherever we’ve lived over the last twenty years, I had to have a ‘writing corner’ (I would like a whole room, but we’ve never lived in a place big enough). And I decided I couldn’t do any writing unless I was in my ‘writing corner’.

This was all well and good in the days of desktop PCs, which weren’t mobile. But when SUFFER THE CHILDREN took 10 years to write, I was using far too often the excuse that I had no time to write because I wasn’t in my ‘writing corner’. A few years ago, my husband bought me a lap top, in an attempt to encourage me to write more often. I decided I didn’t like writing on the laptop because it took me out of my comfort zone. I bought myself a cradle for it, and set it up on the computer desk with a separate mouse and keyboard plugged into it. I could write on it then, because it was in my ‘writing corner’, which defeated the whole purpose of having a laptop.

So then, last year, he bought me a NetBook. And with the arrival of the publishing contract, I had to change my thinking. I could no longer afford to spend months and years away from the writing. I had to be more than a one trick pony (or, indeed, one book author). I always complain about the day job getting in the way of writing time. But since giving up the day job is not a feasible option (at least not yet), the alternative was to try and find time to write around the day job. I had to get used to writing on the NetBook, and get out of my head the idea that the only place I could write was at home in my ‘writing corner’.

And I have to say I have finally made some progress in disabusing myself of this notion. The NetBook keyboard took some getting used to – I am a touch typist, and the keys are so close together it is easy to hit the wrong one – but now that I have, I am getting quite adept at carrying the NetBook around with me and writing in places other than my ‘writing corner’. I sit in Starbucks and bash away for an hour or so before work a couple of days a week. I take the NetBook on holiday and set up camp in the hotel lobby to get some writing in.

In theory I have time on the train on my daily commute that could be put to good use writing, but in practise that’s not going to happen. First of all, I don’t always have a seat on my train. Secondly, we are all packed in so tightly if I tried writing on the NetBook I would have several people who could see over my shoulder. Writing on the move is one thing but having someone watch me write is seriously off-putting.

But there are plenty of other places where I could get some writing time in with the NetBook, and after 20 years of the ‘writing corner’ I am once more getting used to writing on the move. It is, after all, going back to the beginning. Before the days of computers, when I wrote in notebooks, I used to be able to write anywhere. Why it’s taken me so long to go back to that, I have no idea. As I say, I’m a creature of habit. But I am learning that habits can be changed.

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3 comments so far

  1. Clair Dickson on

    “Whether you say you can or you say you can’t, you’re right.”

    I think sometimes, we let ourselves go the easy route. It’s easier to have rituals and requirements for writing than to have the freedom/ pressure to write whenever and where-ever.

  2. ralfast on

    I had a laptop once, but it died (and got real slow over time to boot). I though about buying one of those small ones, just for writing, but a) my ogre like fingers are too big, b) I’ll probably get distracted by the free wi-fi in places like Borders (bookstore) and Starbucks.

    Still considering as it would work wonders for instant note keeping, especially when I create a character on the spot, name a place or do a bit of note taking/world building.

  3. Scarlett Parrish on

    Another gadget we have in common! I love my acer aspire, but I need to keep my nails very, very short to use it, otherwise it’s easy to tap the wrong key in the row above, or to snag them in between the keys.

    It’s really good for when I want to get out of the house to work. Even a laptop can be quite bulky. Another ‘don’t know how I got by without it’ purchase for me.


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