I believe that when you write, if it’s something you love and feel passionate about, you’ll make time for writing, no matter how busy your schedule. But I also know that sometimes we need a special place to kick start our energy levels, think about our process, or to help us rediscover the joy.
Nature and animals play a big part of my everyday life; I live in rural West Cork on a farm next to the sea, and I also grow my own vegetables and catch my own fish. This is a dream come true for me and it helps me get lots of exercise and fresh air in between my writing sessions. It provides balance.
Even though I grew up in a council estate with very little greenery, I was always fascinated by nature and managed to find it in the unlikeliest of places: weeds growing in pavement cracks, ladybirds on the fence, caterpillars hiding under dock leaves, moths behind the curtains, the robin that came to steal the milk by pecking its way through the bottle top. Wherever you are, nature can be found.
Nature makes me feel settled and calm, and even though I love city life too, I find the countryside provides more headspace and also less distractions, so I get lots of writing and lots of reading done. I work from home so I don’t have a commute, which means that breaks can be used for weeding, or walking the dog on the hills or the nearest beach.
The beauty of books is that they transport you to other worlds, and no matter where you are, you can travel to anywhere you want. This is how I feel about being in nature also – I find it freeing. It allows a release. Sometimes it can be difficult to tune in, but walk somewhere wild and soon your surroundings will mesmerize you; whatever worries or concerns you have will melt away.
Although I love it, I can’t always be outdoors – it’s not practical. I’d never get a book finished! I have a room where I write – it’s a tiny room in a mobile home, but it’s mine. Undisturbed, organised, filled with small inspiring trinkets like pebbles collected from beaches and paintings by friends. When I walk in this room I switch my brain to writing – I can leave my other duties and responsibilities outside. My desk faces a (sky blue) wall and, unsurprisingly, there are four framed flower pictures at eye level, so whenever I look up, I still see nature.
I type my novels directly onto my computer, but one of my biggest pleasures is getting away from the desk, and taking long walks with a notebook. Sometimes it is to unravel a plot problem, but usually, it’s to find new ideas or start new projects. Sitting on a grass bank, with rushes whispering behind me, the words flow. And they’re different words to those I would find at my desk. There’s a freedom in going where your feet take you, letting your mind wander too.
Not everyone will be inspired by nature, but I do believe that everyone needs a special place where they can retreat to – to reenergize, to concentrate, to think freely. It could be a busy café, an art gallery, a train; whatever works for you. Understanding your own process and what inspires you and your writing is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. I’d love to know – what is your special creative space?