There are so many tales of famous authors who need certain conditions to be able to write. Circumstances, locations, all perfected to give the optimum writing conditions to create masterpieces of literary fiction.
Agatha Christie famously wrote in the bath whilst eating apples. Marcel Proust only wrote at night from his bed. Maya Angelou wrote in a stripped bare hotel room with only a bottle of sherry and ash tray for distraction. They're famous for a reason, respected for a reason. They found circumstances beyond the ordinary to write in that produced the best possible results.
But what of me? Where do I write?
It's something I'm often asked. People imagine me hunched over a laptop, steaming mug of coffee at my side. Perhaps classical music playing or maybe I need a fresh breeze. Perhaps I have to wear a certain pair of socks or prefer the anonymity of a coffee shop in the city.
The reality is somewhat different. I write whenever and wherever I get the chance.
I am a mother of three under five, two daughters and a step son, and we have no nanny or au pair. We have a small house rammed to the brim with toys and children.
One of my most popular blogs on Rose And Mum And More, Why You're A Crap Mum, was written whilst the big two crashed around and I cooked spaghetti. I put the laptop on the kitchen counter and between shouting at my offspring to stop climbing on each other / stop pulling the cat's tail / stop climbing the walls, and between peeling, chopping and stirring, I wrote.
As I write this I am breastfeeding my smallest whilst the biggest watches television to my left and Jonathan McKinney writes on his own laptop to my right.
My second novel, Lilly Prospero And The Mermaid's Curse, was written primarily whilst I was pregnant with my youngest. I was very ill, spent a lot of time in hospital, and very tired. But whenever I was able to I wrote. I wrote and edited and wrote some more. The book was released exactly one week before the baby was born.
So what's the lesson here?
If you're a writer you're a writer. If you love it you will do it.
I write first thing in the morning, any time from 5AM onwards, before the daily bustle begins. I write last thing at night after the children are in bed and food has been eaten, before I fall exhausted into bed and prepare for the night feeds. I write whilst parenting, I write whilst cooking, I write in silence or in noise. If I have the writing in me it needs to come out.
My perfect writing situation? Calm, quiet, coffee. Enough background noise that I'm not distracted by silence, enough quiet that I'm not distracted by noise. Somewhere private but not isolated. Somewhere warm but not sweaty, comfy but not drowsy making.
But life doesn't always provide such circumstances. First, before anything else, I'm a mother. But next I'm a writer. I wake up thinking first about my children, and second about my writing. I fall asleep writing in my head, I narrate life experiences as if I were writing them, working out how best to describe emotions as they're had, dramas as they unfurl. I pull inspiration from daily life without any intention because writing is as much a part of my identity as my children are.
If you're a writer you will write. Sometimes you'll find it easier than others. Sometimes the words will flow more naturally than others. Sometimes the quality will be better than others. None of that matters. You can improve poor quality writing, you can't improve no writing.
If you're a writer you will write. Write whenever and wherever you are able. Write because you need to. Because if you don't write you'll forever feel incomplete, forever like something inside you is waiting to burst out. Write because you love it and because nothing in this life could fulfil you more.
Thanks for reading.
J.J. Barnes x