When I set out to ride my Royal Enfield Bullet around India I did so with the intension of writing about the journey. That meant, after I’d finished the ride, I’d need to find a place to hunker down and write the book. I no longer had a home in New Delhi, having given up my apartment when I set out on the trip. But even if I did, I knew New Delhi, with its honking horns, shouting vendors and general melee in the streets would be, as Indians say, “most unsuitable”.
No, if I was going to manage the mission of transforming my six leather-, cloth-, and plastic-bound journals filled with notes and observations into some sort of coherent text I’d need a quiet place to work. A place of splendid isolation. A room of my own. A cabin in the woods.
I’d been living in India for nearly four years by then, and the only quiet I’d ever found was in the foothills of the Himalayas: a cabin I’d stayed in while learning Hindi at a Mission-based school in Mussoorie. I’d first found the cabin by “asking around” in town for a place to rent while attending school for six weeks.
India, like every other nation, is rooted in who you know and soon somebody pointed me in the direction of Mr. Lal––a retired CEO of some mega international company––who had a guest cottage on the grounds of his summer getaway.
When I was ready to draft my book, I contacted Mr. Lal and arranged to rent his cabin again. I figured it would take me two months to complete a draft if I worked hard, and paid Mr. Lal cash rupees in advance. I then loaded up my motorcycle (named Kali after the Hindu goddess), stuffed my journals, camera, and assortment of clothes into my saddlebags and headed for the hills.
The cottage was just as I’d remembered: two bedrooms, a spacious bath with shower, a clean and neat kitchen, and…most important…a solid table to write on in front of a huge picture window with a wood-burning stove and a couple of overstuffed fire-side chairs.
I unpacked and planned my writing schedule. I had a deadline––something else writers need–– to complete my draft. Writers need routine and even though I’d never written a book before, I knew I wrote best in the morning. For two months I rose at first light, brewed a cup of tea, and glued myself to the desk and task at hand. I didn’t shower first, and sometimes didn’t change out of my PJs until lunch. I simply wrote seven days a week, eight to ten hours a day, for eight weeks. Two days before my rental agreement expired I met my deadline, writing the last line of my book’s draft.
If you don’t have a cabin in the woods or prefer noisy cafes that’s no problem. All any writer has to do is figure out the space they need for creating their best work and then make the best of whatever they have available. So, even if it’s a room in the basement it doesn’t matter, the space is your sanctuary. Own it.
Where do you write?