Dissertation Guide

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Where and when should I write?

“I write everywhere I can. I write at work. I have lots of colleagues who tell me that they can’t write at work, because there are too many interruptions, they are too busy with other things and therefore they have to stay at home and do some work. I guess a number of things don’t happen at home – the phone doesn’t ring or they can divert it, they can turn off the e-mail and they don’t have students banging on their door. I guess that’s all true and I certainly try to spend a day a week at home in order to write. But I do write at work and I find that I can write in between the interruptions.”

“I’m sure it’s easier to establish a writing routine if you have a designated place to work. But writing sometimes comes more easily elsewhere, especially if you are stuck with your writing. Try on a train or a bus, on the beach, in a library, in a coffee-bar, in an empty classroom, at a friend’s house, in a quiet room on campus, at the kitchen table, etc.”

“I sometimes write on the tube. I used to travel by train a lot and I used to write on the train. I have written on aeroplanes as well. I tend to write long-hand on trains and planes and type everywhere else. I don’t do the laptop thing. I tend to do more of the planning, notetaking, note-type writing whilst on the move than, as it were, the guts of an article or a chapter. Even if it’s a two – or three-hour train journey I still do smaller writing tasks, like writing a short report, a review or notes towards something, but for reasons which I haven’t explored with my therapist yet, I don’t do the longer bits of work.”

“I know one writer who has a sign on her door. I think there are four or five options, ranging from “Do not disturb under any circumstances” and “Knock if urgent” through to “Writing’s not as much fun as it should be”. Her partner also works from home and he follows the sign closely.”

“It’s not a solitary environment because you’re in the company of every book you’ve ever read and every person you’ve ever met.”