Am I more productive at home or elsewhere? I have been pondering this question since I took a day’s leave at the end of last week and traveled into Manchester. I had a particular destination in mind when I caught my train that morning. A new bookshop/cafe has recently opened in the city’s Northern Quarter called Chapter 1 Books (https://twitter.com/chapter1uk) and I was keen to have a look round and also see whether I could get some writing done out of the house.
I’ll hold my hands up. When I am home I do sit down to write, but not as often as I’d like to. One of my excuses is time. I work full time and commute to work by car. Traveling one way can take between 50 minutes on a very good day to double that and more, during term time or snowy conditions. The result is that by the time I get home and have cooked something and cleared up, the last thing I want to do is sit down and start to write.
I try to combat this by leaving work in progress where I can see it. It draws me over to read it; tweak it and crucially add to it. Its not foolproof, but it works some of the time.
At the weekend when I’m writing, I have to adopt tunnel vision. If I glance up from my work, I guarantee I’ll spot something else that my conscience tells me I should be doing. It’s painful. It really is. Which brings me back to Chapter 1 Books. How did I get on?
Surprisingly I started writing before I actually got there, scribbling away in a notebook for thirty minutes on the train. Feeling ridiculously pleased with myself, I then headed for Chapter 1 – a bookshop; a cafe and a performance space in one. I ordered a pot of tea and then headed in and found myself a wingback chair tucked into a corner.
I dug out my notebook and got started, only breaking half an hour later to order another pot of tea (absolutely essential to my creative process!) and take some photos of my surroundings. I sat in that bookshop for two hours and wrote a lengthy poem from scratch and in doing so I realised I am much more spontaneous when I am away from home, when the distractions of domestic chores are removed.
The ambience in Chapter 1 certainly helped. Surrounded by books and writing booths with the low hum of voices and laughter in the background I felt inspired and motivated to write. I’d really recommend a visit if you are in the Manchester area.
Back at home I know that it is more realistic for me to try and do the bulk of my writing at home. To minimise distractions I’m going to invest in a desk so that I have a dedicated area that is just for me. I’m also going to have a couple of days a month where I take myself off to the local library or a cafe and write there.
Hopefully this strategy will pay off. In the meantime though, where did I put that ironing board?…