I usually write at the dining room table – we have an open plan house, so I always feel as if I am trespassing; stealing everyone else’s space. I do have an office, but it is piled high with paperwork and clutter that invades my headspace, and the dining room has a spectacular view of the sea, so I prefer to squat there even though I have to clear my things away at the end of the day.
This summer, though, I have a new plan. A rented hut on Woolacombe beach is going to be my office. I’m going to fill it with everything we need to keep my youngest son and his mates entertained and fed. Then I can sit in the deckchair with a notebook and write, old school, just like they did back in the day. The Brontes didn’t have Word, or Scrivener: just good old-fashioned imagination to power their creativity.
There will be no wifi at the beach, so therefore no distraction from Twitter or Facebook. I shall leave my phone at home as well. There will be inspiration, not just in the stunning surroundings, but in all the people around me: I shall be an eavesdropper extraordinaire! Listening in on other people’s conversations is the lifeblood of a writer.
I will take my To Be Read pile to store in the hut, and dip into old favourites – I’m currently revisiting Mary Wesley, H E Bates and Judith Krantz. Reading is vital and really the only tool you need if you want to improve your writing, increase your vocabulary and learn the tricks that keep the reader turning the page.
I’ll be taking my iPod as well. Music is one of the most important things in my life: if I wasn’t a writer I would like to run a bar that had music at its heart. Somewhere bohemian and eclectic where people could behave just as they wished.
There might be a bottle of white wine, too, to dip into every now and again – though with caution. Writers can quickly turn into old soaks. Look at Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds … though arguably it didn’t do their writing any harm. Drink might unleash the Muse but it makes the rest of life rather tricky, especially the hangovers!
It will be interesting to see how this different way of working affects my output. It will be hard to measure as there won’t be a word-count to tell me exactly how I am progressing, but I’m hoping it will help me experiment and push the boundaries. It will be heaven. It’s hard to believe it’s work!
The Beach Hut Next Door by Veronica Henry is out now.