Where do you work?


April 1, 2013 by Sian Rowland

I had the rather romantic idea when I started working freelance that my laptop and I would be nestled in a corner of a vintage style café. I’d be typing wise words with a cup of Earl Grey at my elbow and a slice of lemon drizzle within easy reach. I’d exchange knowing glances with other lone laptop users as we tapped away, busy being important.

It hasn’t quite worked out like that. I can’t concentrate in cafes. They’re noisy and full of toddlers who would rather be running around outside. Every time the door opens there’s a blast of cold air and the chairs are rarely comfy.  I mostly work from home (see last week’s post) within easy reach of the fridge and kettle and if I fancy recreating the café atmosphere I’ll get out the vintage china and slap a bit of cake on a plate. I also spend lots time in schools or training venues (you can read about those adventures here) so having this time at home is a real treat.

Desk-side service.

Desk-side service.

My business partner and I live several miles apart which in London terms is like saying we live in different continents so we regularly meet in cafes but these meetings are more about plotting and planning. We then go off and complete the work elsewhere. We even held a meeting last week at Wimbledon station where we signed cheques and finalised details about a project on the windblown forecourt as commuters and school children hurried home.

During the occasional microseconds when it wasn’t raining last summer I ventured into the garden to work. It was lovely- the sun at my shoulder, a cool drink on the table and the hum of bumble bees in the lavender. But I couldn’t see a damn thing on the screen no matter which way I held it and within ten minutes I had a sunburnt neck and had to go in. I’m just not made for working in unusual places. Or so I thought.

One's summer office. Feeling hot, hot hot.

One’s summer office. Feeling hot, hot hot.

I’ve decided I need to be a little more creative about where I work. Why? Because I think working in a new way brings new experiences and inspiration. This week I experienced a little of both. I’ve been determined this year to find more time for creativity so I booked myself on to a one day writing retreat with the amazing Book Camp. The retreat was for a week but I booked the one day option as a bit of a creative writing carrot. In a very nice barn conversion overlooked by fields and a rather chilly looking pony, we sat at the dining table and talked and wrote. The idea of a writing retreat is to take a bit of time away from the humdrum routine in order to meet with like-minded people and just get on with it. We did some writing exercises and then focused on our own projects, tap-tapping away quietly, no pressure, no rush, just writing. Bliss.

A whole day of writing here? Don't mind if I do.

A whole day of writing here? Don’t mind if I do.

Later in the week I accompanied a friend to her first studio recording session. She needed some moral support as she recorded her first ever set of demo songs and I offered to be there in the studio, quietly eating biscuits and doing my best Simon Cowell impression but without the sarcasm. Or flat haircut. Or high waisted trousers. In fact nothing like Simon Cowell at all. Maybe I was more Will.i.am. But without the gold lame suit. Or the weird haircut that looks like a shark took a bite from it. And I didn’t say ‘dope’ once although I did say ‘fresh’ at one point.

The view from my studio sofa. Fresh.

The view from my studio sofa. Fresh.

Anyway, I took a notebook and did some scribbling in it which counts as work and my friend recorded a set of songs which sounded totally dope. So all in all a good week’s work. What will the rest of April bring?

Where do you work best and what’s the most unusual place you and your laptop have found yourselves in?

3 thoughts on “Where do you work?

  1. Tim says:

    Like you, I can’t work in cafes and coffee shops either. Whether working or writing, I much prefer the solitude of locking myself away somewhere on my own where I know I can focus for an extended period without being interrupted. I’m just not one of these people who can work piecemeal, a few minutes here and there.

    From a writing perspective, for me that usually means going deep into the small hours after my wife and kids have gone to bed. Many has been the night where I’ve settled down at my keyboard in the study some time after 10pm and not re-emerged until 2-3am, having lost all track of time but having written 4-5,000 words. It’s not the most sociable way to organise my writing time, but it’s certainly the most productive for me.

    • Sian Rowland says:

      I think most people with small children either write very early or very late in the day! I admire your ability to combine work, family and writing like you do, it’s impressive. Oh by the way the writing retreat was near Hungerford so near your manor!

      • Tim says:

        Next time you’re anywhere in the vicinity you must let me know. I’m sure we can find a coffee shop somewhere!

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