The Year Of Writing Dangerously

I don’t understand writers who give up the day-job, then find an office somewhere and spend all day staring at the screen in the same sort of cubicle they may well have occupied when they were wage-slaves.

Why would you do that, when suddenly you can be anywhere?  Giving up the day-job = Freedom!  Being a writer = Freedom!  You no longer have to be tied to an industrial size typewriter.  With the technology available today, you can commune with your muse on feather-light Macbook Air (well, a few feathers…), or iPad or Galaxy tablet, or smartphone.  The tools of the trade have never been so portable, freeing up the writer to follow their craft wherever the mood takes them.

Partly, I think, it’s that a lot of writers are stuck in twentieth-century thinking.  It’s a job – it puts food on the table, it takes a massive amount of effort and concentration – so it has to be treated like a job.  Hard labour in a rabbit-hutch office.  Just so your unconscious, and your loved ones, and friends, don’t think you’re slacking (because secretly you think you are…)

Writing is a job, but it’s not that kind of job.  It’s not digging ditches or making grommets on an industrial estate in Droitwich.  There’s no correlation between the quality of the work and how hard you make the task, or even how much time you spend on the piece.

The correlation is between quality and how quickly, and deeply, and for how long you can immerse yourself in that state of flow – that’s where the brilliance of a piece of writing truly materialises. And you find that immersion when you’re stimulated, not when your surroundings or routine have stultified your brain into jelly.

I write in the garden, in the pub, the cafe, on aeroplanes and trains, on moorland, parks, in a castle, at a zoo, even, once, at the top of the Empire State Building…

I can see the results.  When I’m bored, the writing suffers.  When I’m stimulated by the surroundings, I write better, faster, produce more.

So here’s the thing: for the next year I’m going to document, photographically, some of the places I write – and I’m actively going to seek out unusual locations.  I’ll publish the results here or on the James Wilde Facebook page.  There will be links on Twitter too.  And I’ll use the hashtag #YOWD (Year of Writing Dangerously) so you can search and follow the trail.

And I’d like to throw this open to any other writers – published or soon-to-be published, or not-really-caring-about-being published.  If you’ve got a smartphone, there’s an app – frontback – which is perfectly suited to taking a photo of your location and you in it.  Use the hashtag and let us all see where you’ve created great things, then tell us if it works for you.

Throw off your shackles and be free!