Getting into the Zone

I do most of my writing on the train, and I’m writing this standing on a squashed tube train from Baker Street to Waterloo. I try and write everywhere as I don’t have the luxury of being able to write full time – my day job takes me to an office most days, and there I have colleagues who I can have a laugh with, who (sometimes) make me cups of coffee and who almost always provide biscuits. Or chocolate. Or cake. So being in the office is good, but hopeless for getting the words down in my latest book.


Home is no better. I’m married with two teenage children and there are always forms to be filled or lifts to be given when we’re not cooking, eating or sleeping. Time is my most precious commodity and I have to use it wisely. Some of my new writer friends tell me that they have to sit in silent seclusion to be able to write (one even rented out an old office in a windshield repair houston shop); that they spend hours getting ‘in the zone’ to make them feel that they can write. I can’t afford to do that, but I have realised that the zone creeps up on me. As I walk down the street at the end of the day, the thoughts about emails, clients and meetings are quickly replaced by ideas about my characters. Where did I leave them this morning? Have they been behaving while I’ve been gone? What am I going to do to them tonight? As I work my way through the station, down stairs and escalators and finally along the platform they are back in my head. I know what their reactions will be to the dire peril I might throw at them later, whether it’s time to have them accidentally touch, or whether I should tear them apart. I can’t wait to open my editing copy and dive back in, only to emerge, blinking, when my train finally reaches its destination. Sometimes I’ve barely noticed getting off the tube and onto the train, and I would regularly miss my stop if it wasn’t at the end of the line.


I’m always reluctant to shut the files on my new and secret world, but I have to get on with my evening. Before bedtime, though, I usually sneak away and dive in again, never wanting to let go for the day. My dreams are full of plots and possible conversations, and I regularly scribble notes in my bedside notebook. In the morning I’m there again, scribbling away until the train finally pulls into Waterloo. Something about the tube journey to the office strips all of the zone away, though, and as I open the door and reach my desk my secret world is gone, hidden from everyone until the zone envelops me again like a blanket on the way home.

Where do you like to write?


21 thoughts on “Getting into the Zone

  1. It’s so funny the places where our creativity becomes the most alive.

    I find that I write songs in my head while on the bus coming back from work. And because I can’t just sing into my phone (well, I could, but I would come across as a raving lunatic), I have to keep repeating it in my head and hope that when I rush off the bus and run to my house, I can quickly blurt it out through the microphone before forgetting everything.

  2. Hi Sue! 🙂 I LOVE to write in the front room, or where ever I can! Anywhere as long as I have a pen and notepad, (or tissue to fold out and write on, if i’m eating in Maccy D’s or a cafe..)

  3. I admire your dedication. I like to write in the Festival Hall. I use bus journeys to have internal dialogues with my characters and act scenes out in my head.

    • Interesting – someone else told me last week that they write in the Festival Hall – there must be lots of you loitering in there. I always act out the scenes too, I find it helps me to describe them.

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