Headspace – my writing rituals

You know how some people can work in any environment? Those people who can just zone out on a train and focus on their laptop, or the ones who can sit in a busy cafe and tap away at their iPad without noticing anyone around them?

That’s so not me.

When I’m writing, I need the following:

BloggingThis is my (tiny) home work space. It’s where I write this blog, write features for magazines and websites, blog for companies, send emails, edit websites and take my client phone calls.

It’s my “cave”, my little cubbyhole at the bottom of the stairs, just for me.

Since going self-employed two years ago, I’ve found there are a number of ingredients that I need for the right “headspace” to string together a coherent sentence, or edit a feature. (None of this applies to the radio work by the way, that needs something TOTALLY different, obviously.)

My perfect recipe looks like this: tidy desk, hot drink (in the evening that’ll be a peppermint tea), notepaper to jot down scribbles, a closed tweetdeck, no music, To Do lists on my blackboard and a blanket for when it gets chilly.

Often I’ll have about ten ideas jostling for room in my head before I sit down. Whether it’s a feature, a blog post, a piece of copywriting or some editing, I tend to take a couple of minutes faffing before I get into “the zone”.

It’s funny to write about what I do when I’m writing, because I’ve never really thought about it until now. It’s the one thing I’m pretty particular about, in that I can’t concentrate if I’ve got a pile of rubbish on my desk, or loud music in the background.

I find it fascinating to see how other people work. Those of us who write for a living tend to have different ways of doing things. I have friends who compose features at their kitchen table on a laptop, others who take to their bed with a pile of magazines and an iPad and others still who come up with their most creative ideas while in the shower.

Many of my ideas come to me while doing something mundane like pegging out the washing or driving somewhere, but they don’t get made into anything tangible until I’m safely settled in my “cave”.

I remember watching a documentary years ago about Roald Dahl’s work space. I was struck by how simple it was; a tiny shed in the garden, a chair, a blanket and a wooden board to rest on his knees. With just those items, in that place, he could let his imagination dream up the twisting plots and colourful characters he became famous for.

This post was inspired by my blogging buddy Jo at Dexterous Diva, but I’d love to know how you achieve your perfect working / blogging frame of mind. What do you need to compose that post? Do you write on the hop or have you got a little ritual you go through before you get stuck in?

Leave a comment – or write your own post and link up in the comments below.



  1. says

    I would love one of those pod/sheds in the garden – heated with a view across the lawn (- oh go on throw in a pond) and the time to just sit in it and write stuff.
    I used to have a desk which I didn’t use that often, mostly I spread myself out on the bed. Similar necessities, quiet, hot drink, note book.
    My current bedroom doesn’t do the job and so I perch on the sofa. Mostly, I need time and I never seem to have enough time. So often there are things in my head that I really mean to transfer to the media of blog post but alas it never happens. I do admire how much you write and how often.

  2. says

    I have a laptop so I tend to migrate around the house but I do need a notepad and pen, a cup of tea (I’m into chai at the moment) and SILENCE. I get a bit crazy if people come in the room and even want to work near me I am that obsessive about disturbance. I never really realised that until now!

  3. says

    I am pretty much like you. I need to have everything in its own place to be able to concentrate in my mind. I have noticed that if there is mess around me I have great difficulties to focus on what I am doing. Everything I need has to be nearby and a hot drink always helps immensely!

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