Now that I am home, I am writing more about the experience, sitting outside in the sunshine this morning. I find that I like to write outside and that I know many others who share that pleasure. One of the great things about writing is, as Jonathan Coe remarked in Saturday’s Guardian, it is portable. And sometimes you write for no more than a few minutes and at others you find yourself writing for a long stint. (If you haven’t seen The Guardian’s current series, ‘My working day’, it is worth having a look.)
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jun/04/jonathan-coe- my-writing- day
So where do you write? In teachers’ writing groups at UEA and at Brunel University we have enjoyed Jill Krementz’ book of photographs: The Writer’s Desk. Each double page spread bears a photograph and a short reflection by the writer.
http://www.abebooks.com/9780679450146/Writers-Desk- Jill-Krementz- 0679450149/plp
There are those who write in bed, at a lectern, or even sitting with a laptop on a kitchen counter. It is possible to reflect on the clear desk and the messy work surface, the presence of cats, dogs, children, and the notebook versus screen. There is also the question of time of day or night –or even the season. I find that I prefer different spaces for different kinds of writing. Sometimes a notebook rested on the knee in a waiting room works. At other times the hard chair and the firm surface of a table is what is required.
Philip Roth writes: ‘I don’t ask writers about their work habits. I really don’t care. Joyce Carol Oates says somewhere that when writers ask each other what time they start working and when they finish and how much time they take for lunch, they are actually trying to find out, “Is he as crazy as I am?” I don’t need that question answered.’
I wonder what you think? Jonathan Coe also resists being pinned down. He says, ‘No writing day bears any resemblance to another.’ We are not expecting those we teach to become novelists (although some may). A school is unlikely to create the ideal conditions for everyone (for anyone?), whatever they may be, but it may be helpful to think about the many different ways in which writing might happen.
In schools we tend to ask children to write at a single desk or grouped around a large table. In some primary school classrooms, there is the opportunity to write spread-eagled on the floor and even under the table. Good early years settings tempt children who love the outdoors with notebooks and whiteboards and chalk for the outside classroom.
Should there be a time and place for writing in different places, or should we always expect children to write at a desk? Writing teachers who have taken students to museums or historic houses have noticed how children welcome the chance to spread their legs out or to huddle in a nook or cranny when they are writing they are glad not be dominated by the ticking clock and the insistent ringing of bells.
What do you think?
It would be great if you took a photograph of your favourite writing space with or without you writing in it. If you write alongside your class, perhaps you could ask one of them to photograph you? Perhaps you could ask them where they like to write? Send us a photograph. It would be great to add you to the gallery.