A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

Writers’ Desks by Martin Griffin

Stephen King has a word or two to say about desks – a good place, I reckon, to start a week of posts about where Allsorts authors sit down to write every day.

In ‘On Writing’, King is searingly honest about his booze-fuelled ego expressing itself in the desire to work at a massive desk. It’s 1981, and he’s just finished The Stand and The Dead Zone. He’s rich, lauded… and a hopeless alcoholic. “I placed it in the middle of a spacious skylighted study,” he says of his new desk. “For six years, I sat behind that desk either drunk or wrecked out of my mind, like a ship’s captain in charge of a voyage to nowhere.” There are novels he knows must have been written there – Cujo, for instance – that he has no memory of.

King sobered up in the early nineties. “I got another desk,” he says. “I put it at the far west end of the office in a corner under the eave.” His advice: “Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room.”

Point taken, Steve. Here’s mine, tucked up against the wall as you can see!

pic 1

I don’t write with a copy of Lifers permanently next to me; here it’s for the purps of illustration only, folks. There’s Joe Hill’s Locke and Key book 1, a graphic novel that works like free-flowing inspiration at the moment. Just out of shot will be a pair of headphones and a Spotify playlist, and peeping at you from the front left are my beloved notebooks.

I was chatting with fellow Allsort Dan Smith recently, and he was telling me how Scrivener was beginning to get its claws into him. I’ve never used it myself; something about long-hand notes in battered notebooks works particularly well for me. Probably because I spend so much time scribbling things out, cross-referencing ideas, and connecting possibilities with arrows, loops and boxes.

Here’s a sample:

pic 2

If I’m going to do this tour justice, I need to show you this little shelf of wonderment, which can be found a mere arm’s-reach away from the desk:

pic 3

If I’m having a particularly bad time of it, I’ll park myself in front of this lot. There’s something unnervingly evangelistic about the way books like this can be written and the tone can be too urgent; ‘Save the Cat’ needs approaching with a sense of perspective for example. But Donald Maas’s stuff is good; he always reminds me to raise the stakes even higher. ‘The Writer’s Journey’ has been recommended time and again; I eventually succumbed when writer/director Jon Favreau name-checked it on some podcast. John Yorke’s ‘Into the Woods’ is a great place to start, as is the book with which this post began; Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.

So, after this whistle-stop tour, where am I sitting as I type these final words? Ironically, I’m downstairs watching the dying moments of Spain versus the Czech Republic, with the volume down and the laptop on my knees.

I’m on the sofa. I’ve pulled it into the middle of the room, of course…


Martin Griffin writes sci-fi and fantasy adventures for young readers. His debut novel, THE POISON BOY, won The Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition in 2012 and somehow managed to get shortlisted for Staffordshire Young Teen Fiction Award, the North East Book Award, the Leeds Book Award, the Calderdale Children’s Book of the Year, the Kent Themed Book Award and the Branford Boase Award, without winning any of them. A teacher at the time, he wrote using the name Fletcher Moss to keep it secret from his students. He returns to his real name for his second novel, LIFERS, a super-dark contemporary prison-break adventure, his first novel for teen readers. Martin lives in Manchester with his wife and child.


One comment on “Writers’ Desks by Martin Griffin

  1. writeanne
    June 20, 2016

    Another great post, Martin. I also like King’s ‘On Writing’. My current go to is ‘Screenwriting Tricks’ for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff. I have the novel playlist in my i-tunes favourites and the notebooks, post-its and scraps of paper covered in notes. As to your writing process, positioning and layout of your desk, we could be twins! 🙂 Apart from not having the same parents and being born decades and miles apart and the fact we’re not actually twins 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on June 20, 2016 by .
%d bloggers like this: