Saturday, July 25, 2015

Writer's Workspace - The Plotting Shed

We're delighted to welcome back Natalie Anderson to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about her special place to write.

It was five years after the ‘call’—and after I’d written twenty books—before I finally got a ‘room of my own’ in which to work.

During those years my hubs, my four kids and I lived in four different houses (plus we had a couple of months homeless and crashing with family after earthquake damage to the house we’d been in—and waiting for it to be fixed). There was no ‘room to write’ in any of these houses—unless you count the laundry! 

So I ‘made do’—sometimes I got up super early and sat in the small space in front of the washing machine and tapped at the keyboard. I wrote in the car, in bed, at the kitchen table, in the car, at any cafe that would let me, in the car some more… one time I even spent a couple of nights at a holiday park locked up in a cabin to get a book finished. 

But mostly it was the car. 

My husband reckons I was the romance writing equivalent of The Lincoln Lawyer, though I had no driver and only one car... I liked to go and park up somewhere scenic either the beach or the Botanic gardens—somewhere green and with water nearby. But honestly, it was cramped (even though, given there are six of us in the family, it’s a fairly large car), it got hot and I got more than a bit sick of it.

Fortunately, we finally got back to our own home in Christchurch, all fixed up post-quake. There still wasn’t a study or designated room to write, but there was a tiny creek crossing the front corner of our section and a pocket of land beyond that. 

About five years ago the council had done a beautification programme, gently landscaping the flow of the creek and designing a native plant setting for us—so now the plants were a bit of a jungle! But awesome—kind of like a very mini Botanical garden all of our own. 

That’s when I got the idea to put a teeny tiny shed out there. 

I was used to the car and didn’t need a lot of space—just something cute and with that green view. 

So I got on the Internet and found the perfect ‘shed’—it came all the way from Sweden. And my Hubs (who loves a project) got busy. He said it was like putting Lego together—just ten pieces in one afternoon and voila. It is just gorgeous—in sun and snow and has a lovely woodsy smell and my daughter painted me a sign to hang on the front of it.

I loved it the second I stepped into it—it really was everything I’d hoped it would be. My OWN space—gorgeous in snow and in sun! 

It has evolved over the last couple of years—we had electricity put in as it needs a heater in the winter and a fan in the summer. I have a new-to-me comfy chair and a better lamp... And I’m onto my third drawbridge—the first planks kept getting washed away when the creek flooded so the Hubs designed a drawbridge that the kids think is awesome (they don’t realise its to keep all of them out!). 

Now I go through the bushes, down the little path, over the bridge and up onto the ‘far side’ to the shed. There are bright blue dragonflies whizzing round, I have a gang of regular ducks, several neighbourhood cats and an eel living between a couple of rocks. Inside the shed there are a number of spiders—some rather large, and one of our cats likes to come in—she lets me know by clinging onto the window and peering in.

At first I made the rule that as it was going to be a ‘room to write in’ I wasn’t going to distract myself by having all my books in there to read... but I’ve found that actually, I’m better surrounded by filled bookcases. It makes it cosier and more like a mini library and I just adore libraries... they’re inspiring. So I have some of my own on a shelf to remind myself when I’m going through a rough patch with the WIP that that if I’ve done it once, I can do it again... 

I have all my craft books, books by my friends and what I call my ‘comfort reads’—those ones I’ve read a kazillion times (pretty much all Georgette Heyer’s historicals). And one of the best things about my shed?

No. Internet. Access.

That’s the best way to increase my productivity! So I’m fully onboard with the whole ‘she-shed’ craze that’s been hitting Pinterest lately... 

I definitely think everyone should have their own shed--whether it is for use as a creative space, office, or just a time out zone. If you had a shed, what would you use it for?

Natalie's latest book, The Tycoon's Terms of Engagement, is out now:

The Winner Takes All...

To notorious tycoon Jack Wolfe, billion-dollar deals are his lifeblood. So no one is more surprised than he is when his meeting with Australia’s most stylish blogger Steffi Johnson gets completely out of hand! He wants to buy her blog but, fascinated by her latent sensuality and too-smart mouth, he can’t resist making an entirely different offer...

Steffi’s torn – she can’t afford to jeopardise the business deal, but Jack’s touch ignites a desire that is as addictive as it’s overwhelming! She recognises the demons driving him – it takes one to know one – but can she make this deal with the devil and walk away unscathed?

USA TODAY bestselling author Natalie Anderson writes fun, frisky, feels-good contemporary romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Entangled Publishing and Independently. For more info about Natalie and her books, check out her website and her Facebook page.


  1. I'd definitely turn a shed into a writer's retreat. However, I think I'd still need at least a little internet access--maybe just enough to post blogs. :D

    1. ah - but you could write the blog post without distraction and then hook into the internet later to upload ;) but yes, I find it VEY hard without internet - which is why it's good for me!!!

  2. You had me up until you mentioned spiders....

    1. I know! LOL - I just let them scuttle away, most of the time they're smart enough to stay out of sight :)