Working Conditions – Tip 3

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Now, before we get onto the actual content of what you are writing, let’s consider the circumstances under which you are doing it. Your working conditions will affect your productivity enormously. Simply sitting day after day, tapping away with no break except for a cup of coffee, is not in the long run going to be good for either your health or your productivity.

We’ll take the various aspects of your working conditions separately:-


Some writers like to always write in the same place – where they have the conditions and the solitude that suits them. I like to vary my locations. Writing can feel a lonely occupation. When I was young and writing my first stuff, I shared a London bachelor flat with a number of other actors and writers. Sometimes they were all out on tour or doing things elsewhere, and the flat felt very deserted. So then I would either go to the public library, or I would catch the tube to Leicester Square and go to my favourite Lyons Corner House (now long gone), where I would sit in the most secluded corner with a cup of coffee and their wonderful apple pie, and write for hours at a time (longhand in those days) with the hubbub of London all around me. The waiters and other regular customers knew me and often asked how it was going! Highly productive was the answer. Go wherever you feel happy.


This is hugely important, both for your body’s wellbeing and for your concentration. Everyone is different. I for instance cannot now sit for long at a desk or table. I get backache. The physios wouldn’t approve, but by far the best position for me is on a sofa, bed, chaise longue, leaning back against cushions, with my legs straight out in front, a cushion on my lap, and my laptop on the cushion. I can go for hours like that and no trace of back pain. But then I have a friend who writes all the time standing up at a lectern. Find your own most comfortable posture.


Even more important. Sitting for days exercising your mind but not your body will in the end take its toll on both. This requires a whole blog, so it will be the next one. Simple rules for how writers can stay healthy. (Then we’ll start on the writing itself.)

One other tip. As a beginner I used to think I had to work eight hours a day, because that’s what professional people do. An older hand at the job told me, “Don’t. Your brain can’t handle such intensity for eight hours. Just write four or five and you won’t need to throw nearly so much away.” He was right. Choose your best time for creativity (for me it’s the morning – some prefer afternoons or even the night time) and do something else for the rest of the day – garden, paint, play golf, go hiking. You will find that your subconscious mind has meanwhile done a lot of work and you are much better prepared for the next session .

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