A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
For years, the spare room in our house was a junk room. If you ever saw the episode of Friends where Chandler discovers Monica’s secret messy closet, you’ll have some idea of what it looked like. But when I decided I was going to try writing for real — and not just give up after a few weeks, as I’ve tended to do with a lot of new interests — my husband suggested we turn the junk room into a writing room (he’s charming like that).
But then I had to decide what I wanted in it. I’d never had an entire room to myself before that wasn’t a bedroom, so I felt I needed to make it count. To be a space where I felt productive and inspired, but also relaxed.
After ruthlessly tossing everything out, I had a blank canvas to work with. I decided not to get an actual desk — I was used to writing on cushioned knee-desk thing by then, and to hell with my posture — and instead got an L-shaped sofa where I and my writing companions could comfortably slouch. These are the companions, slouching comfortably.
|Cricket & Pilot|
You might have spotted that bookshelves have also taken over most of my writing room. They are comprised of 3 bookcases with a very clear, sensible system of book sorting — and none of this fanciful rainbow spines malarkey that makes a mockery of both the alphabet and logic. A MOCKERY. (Fine, rainbow shelving looks pretty, but if I and a rainbow-shelver were on the Crystal Maze and the task was to find a set of books by a specific author, it wouldn’t be ME getting locked in the room — that’s all I’m saying.) (Don’t scrutinise that example; I know it doesn’t hold up.) Allow me now to distract you with a picture of my bookshelves. Behold.
Seeing a wall of books is one of the most inspiring things for me when I’m writing. I see all the stories that have been written, and my little bundle of spines in the middle of them showing there’s a place for my words. It also reminds me that I actually have finished a few of the things, so no matter what my anxiety-riddled brain tells me from time to time, it CAN be done.
You might also have noticed Edgar the Owl sitting in the corner:
There’s something creepy about birds, isn’t there? I only realised fairly recently that two of my three books have something spooky to do with birds in them (the haunted weathervane in Blackfin Sky, and the taxidermied owl in Breaker). As I seem to write spooky stories, I suppose I needed a little bit of creep-factor in my writing space. Edgar isn’t a raven, but he makes me think of Poe’s The Raven, and he looks hellish stern.
Something else I love having facing me as I write — and I think perhaps this is an odd one? — is a clock. Maybe it’s a throwback to my days of piano lessons with the ticking metronome pushing me and the music along, but I find that sound helps keep me focused. This one is my favourite.
The final pieces I keep in my room are my instruments. I have a couple of guitars and a refurbished piano that I love, so they needed a space in my writing room. I don’t play either particularly well, but music is something that inspires me (I have soooo many playlists to go with my books and WIPs) so just having them next to me makes me feel more creative. I think it might also be why I’m currently working on a story about a musician…
|In my natural writer state: Pyjama top, hair scraped back, no make-up.|
So endeth the tour of my writing space. Maybe it just looks like a bunch of stuff to everyone else, but the stuff in my writing room is what feeds my writer brain and helps me make stories. I think if you can surround yourself with things that inspire you, the words will keep coming.
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Kat Ellis is a YA author from North Wales, where she grew up immersed in ancient myths about dragons and giants, and spent most of her childhood getting into trouble while exploring the local cemetery. Now, you’ll usually find her taking photographs of the Welsh wilderness. Her books include Blackfin Sky (YA fantasy thriller), Breaker (YA suspense), and Purge (YA sci-fi thriller).