Assessments, Writing

Writing in the Library

The three most important things in writing fiction are arguably plot, characterisation and setting.

Today’s blogpost will be discussing setting, but not in the context of a fictional universe, but where I the writer craft such fictional universes.

Sutton Library, Feb 2013

This is a view I am becoming quite familiar with; it’s the view from the work area in my local main library, where I find myself decamping, laptop in hand, for a Sunday afternoon spent crafting fictional worlds.

When I’m trying to get down to work at home, I find myself impossibly distracted quite a lot of the time. Sometimes the atmosphere just isn’t quite right for a session with my up-and-coming work… but coming to this place, relaxing in the quiet with no distractions bar my own thoughts and perhaps music through headphones easily and quickly gets me in the mental psyche needed to write fiction. I love it.

I started going to my local main library – in Sutton, south London – for Nanowrimo 2012 last November with my friend Jamie; over the course of about three afternoons, I got just over 11,000 words done – over 20% of the actual novel. At home, I’d have been hard-pressed to have that kind of productivity.

What I think is most appealing for writing in the library isn’t just the peace and quiet of the surrounds but the feeling of being in a strange, intellectual and literary bubble where everyone else is there for the same reasons you are. They’ve all got projects to work on, and books to enjoy. Subconsciously, I think, I’m also finding it easier to work on stuff with the glint of hope that my own work may find its way to the heady shelves that surround me.

Even nicer, I’ve found, is bringing a couple of like-minded friends here who also have projects to work on. Somehow, being busy but also in the presence of friends with the same objective is a catalyst for new productivity.

Working on "The World Eaters", Sutton Library (Nov 2012)It’s great that places like this exist, really. It’s a warm, comfortable haven, open to all – with free power to boot, and limited connectivity to the endless distractions of the outside world, it really does empower me to get to be one with my chosen hobby.

As an easily-distracted perfectionist, I do accept that I need a subconscious kick up the backside to knuckle down and get to work. Being in a different location, funny as it sounds, is just what I need to get focused and I look forward to at the very least spending my Sunday afternoons sitting as my fictional creations come to life in front of me.

Yesterday I made great progress in the editing process for Colonisation, but maybe challenges – say, write a short in an afternoon? – could be great catalysts for creativity? I’m certainly game!

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