Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Write At Home :: Ally Blake

Writing ain't like any other office job - which is funny since we sit down at a computer to perform it.  But with the muse at play - as well as many of us being women, with families, kids, lives that impose on our allotted "office hours" - we simply have to find whatever works to get the job done.  Here's Ally Blake's method of making being a "write at home" mum work.

I have a great home office.  This office was one of the motivating factors when we bought out house.  There's a huge wrap around desk, a fabulous bouncy leather executive chair, a hulking great bookcase,  oodles of natural light, a cork board covered in inspiration quotes, and 24/7 access to Pinterest and its plethora of images of Joe Manganiello and David Gandy to keep me plenty inspired.

But even though I've been writing full-time - and ostensibly "working from home" - for over five years now, I do not, in fact, write at home.

Why the heck not?  I hear you ask. 

Thing is, I have no willpower.  Not a drop.  I can hear the fridge humming temptingly in the kitchen next door, and there are Tim Tams in there.  The TV is twenty short steps away, and I have that episode of The Good Wife waiting for me.  As for Pinterest and all those lovely "inspirational" pictures whispering to me from the internet?  Okay, so that's just good business.

Writing from home I'd never get a word on the page.

Add three kids five years old and under and working from home is akin to pure insanity.  This picture to the right is not me - but I swear I've written emails to my editor in that exact position!

Which is why, for the past few years, I write anywhere but.

I start my writing day by heading to a local cafe.  I'm lucky that I can write surrounded by noise.  Heck I could write at a kid's birthday party at a play centre run by Led Zeppelin, so long as my own kids weren't there.

Even nights at home are impossible for me - my ears are pricked for the slightest change of breath of a sleeping child one floor up, and even the most advanced noise-reduction headphones won't change that.  Cafe noise?  Bliss!

I found this method when I lived in Melbourne, and the staff at my regular haunts were just gorgeous.  They gave me discounts, they knew which tables I liked best, they never worried that I sat for two hours on one cup of coffee.  Needless to say when I made the move interstate there was a fair amount of panic about finding the same.  Thankfully it turned out niceness translates across state borders.

Didn't take long to know them all by name.  They notice if I'm late, if I come on a day that's not my usual.  At one place - staffed by gorgeous young Italian tourists - my order is on the table before I even sit down!

I wonder if the owners feel as though they have their own "artist in residence" and if there's not some kind of thrill in that.  More likely they are simply used to odd-bod regulars, of which I've somehow become one.  "Hey guys, latte-and-white-choc-macadamia-cookie-lady's back.  Wonder what saucy stuff she'll mumble out loud today?"

Once my battery runs out I move onto the local library.  Electrical sockets galore, and relative quiet which means I need my headphones to add white noise!

Truth is it's taken a few years to find what works. But for me, boy does this work!  Again the pic on the right isn't me - but see her smile?  Oh yeah baby!

I need only work two days a week, 9 til 3, and I get near 10,000 words on the page.  And I look forward to those days.  I enjoy every second of them.  I put on lippie, I wear nice clothes, I'm a grown up person for a bit, not covered in paint and peanut butter.   There is no guilt that comes from the pathetic whimpering of the load of washing teetering out of the basket in the laundry as ten minutes away by car I can't hear it!

I'm terribly lucky to make a living at this job of mine, which means my husband who's more than happy to share the kid-load can.  We both work part-time, so I can write and he can see the kids as much as possible while they are so young and still love us.

And right now, at this point in time, we've hit a real groove.

This year, my eldest started school.  My middle kid does a half-week at kindy.  You'd think that would give me the incentive to move back to my gorgeous office, right?

Are you kidding me?   There are still Tim Tams in that fridge, people!

Ally Blake is the bestselling author of twenty-four fun, fresh, flirty romances for Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Romance and now the brand spanking new Harlequin KISS.  Her first KISS, THE SECRET WEDDING DRESS, is out now worldwide.   Upon reading it, a Goodreads said it made her "laugh and giggle like a child".

Find out more about Ally and her books at


  1. Wow!! Your writing method sounds so fabulous - especially the bit about the gorgeous Italian tourists - I bet that's inspiring.

  2. Veeeery inspiring. I can sit back, sipping an Italian hot chocolate and just close my eyes and pretend I'm in Rome! Of course then I have to actually write ;).

  3. I love having writers in my cafe and get really excited by their progress. One left her editing printout behind one day and it took all my will power not to read it when I'd been watching her work on it for so long!

  4. Oooh, I'd have had a peek for sure! And yay you for being so generous with your table. I'll thank you on her behalf ;).

  5. Wow Ally, 5000 words a day, that's impressive. I do the same thing. I can't work from home and live in the local cafes. I like being surrounded by people. We've just had a new library open in Byron, so it's proving a very attractive alternative office option.

  6. Oh lovely, Jennifer! I don't know what I'd do without my library. Wonderful place to write.