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Writing: 5 Places to Write When You’re Fed Up with Working at Home

photo of Helena Halme with wine and book

Helena Halme raises a glass to the joys of writing in cafes and other places away from home

Finding the best places to write can be challenging. Even if you’re lucky enough to have “A Room of One’s Own”, as Virginia Woolf called it, in your home, in which you may write to your hearts content, a change of scene may also be welcome occasionally.

And for those who don’t have that luxury, finding a conducive spot away from home is all the more important. 

Finnish novelist Helena Halme, who writes full time and is based in London, shares her top tips for suitable spaces away from home, to help you write better, faster, and more consistently.

 

 

Do you ever get cabin fever? If you’re a full-time author like me, I bet you get fed up with working at home and want to find places to write in. I have five suggestions for you right here, so what are you waiting for? Get out and about!

1. Libraries

photo of interior of library

Photo by Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38962663

This is rather obvious, but you’d be surprised how many authors and other freelancers don’t think about going to their local library to work. Libraries, like the one close to me in Crouch End, North London, has desks for working and even a passable (free) internet connection.

I also use the British Library at King’s Cross in the centre of the city. For any author, visiting this institution is a pleasure, and their working areas are equipped with desks, reading lamps and comfortable chairs. It tends to get rather busy, with all the students from the various educational establishments seemingly using it to study (and flirt!), but if you get there early, or apply for a Reader Pass, you can find your perfect, quiet working space.

2. Theatre Cafés

Most authors I know have some time or other used various cafés to write their masterpieces. Think J K Rowling who wrote large parts of the Harry Potter series in The Elephant House Cafe in Edinburgh.  However, many establishments are now quite savvy (and a bit fed up) with freelancers who turn up at nine am, buy one coffee and occupy a table for the whole day. Not so in most theatre cafés.

I love the National Theatre Kitchen Café on the South Bank because of its functional, airy architecture, and scenic views over the Thames, but also because if you stay there for any amount of time, you will most probably spot a famous actor arriving or leaving rehearsals. It also exudes artiness with posters and works of art on its barren, cement walls.

Another theatre café good for writing is at The Park Theatre in Finsbury Park. It’s a local theatre to me, and hence a useful place for a few hours uninterrupted working.

3. Formal Gardens

photo of house and gardens and Dyrham Park

Gardens at Dyrham Park, a Naitonal Trust property in Gloucestershire (photo by Debbie Young)

This is probably not such a useful tip if you are in the midst of winter as we currently are here in the UK, but if you’re on the other side of the world, and it’s your summer, go to a garden to write when you’re fed up with working at home. Find a shaded bench, and take out your notebook or laptop and start tapping.

I love Kew Gardens in London and can write there almost any time of the year, provided it’s dry! There’s something about the sounds of the nature around you, be it birdsong or the gentle flow of water in a pond, or the rustle of the wind in the majestic trees in Kew that never fail to inspire me.

I also love writing on the decking of our sauna cottage in Åland, a place where I’ve spent many an hour dreaming up characters and plots while gazing at the changing colours of the sea and the sky. A group of islands in the Baltic between Finland and Sweden, this is a special place for me, so much so that my next series of books will be set there.

Writing places can also, in themselves, bring inspiration.

4. Planes, Trains and Automobiles

OK, so I cannot write in a car unless it’s a huge motor-home. But I couldn’t resist that title. However, trains and planes are absolutely the best places for me to get a lot of writing done. I’m not sure why this is, but I guess it’s the lack of distractions. For a number of minutes or hours, stuck in a seat with a table in front of me without anything to do, with poor wifi (if any), is just perfect!

5. Other People’s Homes

‘What?’ I hear your shout. Bear with me. I am not, honestly, suggesting that you sneak into other people’s homes and just to settle down and write a few words on your manuscript. No, no, no!

cover of The Christmas Heart

Helena Halme’s new novel is out just in time for the Christmas market

What I am saying here is that, if, for example, you are invited to a house party over the weekend, but you are in the middle of a manuscript, you want to go, but are thinking of refusing an invitation. Instead of being a party pooper, why don’t you say instead, ‘I’d love to come for a visit, but I have to work. Could I spend a few hours writing while there?’ Most people don’t mind, honestly.

One of my friends is keeping an early draft of a manuscript that I wrote in her house, in case (she said ‘when’ – a true friend), I become famous.

Another time, the Englishman and I were invited to a rather posh place in Scotland for a fishing weekend, and I skipped the lunches and stayed in their home (I must say it was more of a castle) to write. I’ve done the same during a hunting weekend, and numerous other visits to see friends. I find people are often impressed that you are so committed to your writing that you can’t let a day go by without working. Wouldn’t that impress you too?

I hope I’ve given you some ideas on what to do if the walls are caving in and you are fed up with working at home.

OVER TO YOU What’s your favourite place to write? We’d love to know! 

#authors - wondering where to write today? Here are 5 great ideas for places to write away from home from Finnish author @HelenaHalme. #ww #amwriting Click To Tweet

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