Desk or exercise bike? What’s the best location for a writer?

George Orwell famously took himself off to the Scottish island of Jura to pen 1984, allowing himself to become engrossed in tranquillity and isolation for the creation of the dystopian classic.

I’m writing this blog as I sweat away on an exercise bike in my one-time garage that now acts as a cold office for the writing of books and magazine articles.

So where is the ideal location to sit down with a laptop and string together classic sentences? With so many writers and bloggers out there, the location of us as an industry must be very diverse.

As a journalist on several newspapers, the optimum location was simple – the newsroom, with all the cups of coffee and swear words needed to motivate the sharpest of copy. At a push near deadline, I’d telephone it in from Crown Court having scribbled it in shorthand.

But what about now, as a freelance with the luxury of working from home? Ah, there’s a phrase. “Working” from home. The trouble is, with all the distractions of a modern home, it can often be the worst place to work. Apart from the kettle, the telephone, the television, the cleaning, the washing and the DIY, there’s the Internet; the working day can sometimes be squeezed into 30 minutes between dishwasher cycle and the tenth check of the BBC News website.

Let’s try leaving home, then. I’ve written some of my work sat in a pub or a cafe. But then you risk being seen as a pretentious so-and-so who drags his laptop everywhere to write golden prose over a caramel latte and piece of carrot cake. Those lattes soon add up as well, hitting me like a caffeine tax on creativity by the end of the session. I’ve tried going out on a bench in the Peak District, which is great for inspiration but not so great for the sunlight’s glare on the screen. Or, more likely, the raindrops hitting the keyboard.

I suppose I would like to report that I sit at a desk, inspired for hours on end and hammering the keyboard while taking up an ergonomically suitable position. But the truth is I’m usually scrunched up on the sofa listening to Lana del Ray or Noel Gallagher, trying to get the wood burner going to fight off the chills of winter and avoid putting the central heating on.

Apart from now, of course, 7.2km into a bit of keep-fit.

So, come on. Where do you do it?

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About peternaldrett

I'm a writer who contributes to newspapers and magazines on a regular basis and has also published several outdoor guides to the Peaks, Lakes and Yorkshire Dales. I write educational material for multiple publishers and have just finished writing my first book for Bloomsbury - out in 2019. My new Peak District Year Round Walks is out now.
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One Response to Desk or exercise bike? What’s the best location for a writer?

  1. Very impressive Peter, I could never write riding a bike! (But I am looking at getting a cabin built this year for just this very purpose 😉

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