Sunday, August 30, 2015

Writer's Workspace - Writing on the Underground

We're delighted to welcome back Nicole Locke at the Pink Heart Society, as she talks about writing on London's underground train system...

I can’t work from home. Either home stuff interrupts writing stuff or writing stuff interrupts home stuff. It’s the oddness of a writer’s life that you can’t get laundry done because you’re writing, but you can’t write because you have laundry. So much so, that by the end of the day you have a cranky writer, and equally smelly clothing (there’s a teenage boy in the house).

Moreover, I’m not welcome at home. No, really, I’m not. I live in London and our place is naturally small. It becomes not so much I’m feeling claustrophobic from the four walls as much as the four walls are feeling claustrophobic by me. During the day, I can hear them grumble that I need to get out of their space (but only after cleaning the laundry).

So I go. Oh, I have a local cafĂ© I call my office. The boys there take such good care feeding and watering me. There are no walks yet, but we’re working on that. Then there’s the trips I take to the museums, the parks, the benches. 

But for my most productive writing, I head to the underground for a game I play.

It’s a great writing game because it’s simple, anyone can play and it truly works. It has two simple instructions: 1. Take your portable computer or writing pad and pen. 2. Don’t. Get. Off. (Until the writing’s done). 

Why does this game work? There are no toilets on the tube. 

So when there’s a deadline or I’m behind in my word count or I just can’t suffer through a difficult scene, I get on at one station and ride the tube all the way to the end and back again (or around and around).

I write until I’m done with the scene that’s bothering me or the dialogue that won’t work. I write because I can’t do anything else, and I know, at some point, I will have to use the toilet.

Now, I don’t set myself up to fail. There are no copious amounts of tea before I get on the tube. This tube writing is serious business. Am I worried about not finishing a scene before that all-important break? No. I think my body and fingers live in fear of this happening. 

Tube writing is not all fearful time. As I look down at the computer in my lap, I can see the different arms and shod feet of other passengers. They add to the tapestry of my writing, and certainly most smell better than my laundry at home. But more than that, I like to think that they are encouraging me. After all, these arms and feet are busy. They’re on their way to work, and may be in need of a bit of entertainment. They, too, deserve to know how the scene will end. 

So, yes, I sit on the tube; I finish that writing. And the best bit? This transportation takes me away to 13th Century Scotland just as easily as it takes me to the gates of my daughter’s school in time for pick up. By then, the laundry is dry and the walls of my home welcome me again.

Do you have a special place that inspires you to get writing? Share your stories with us and Nicole in the comments!

Nicole's debut, Her Enemy Highlander, is out now:

In the wilds of Scotland...

Impulsive Mairead Buchanan’s only goal is to track down the man responsible for her brother’s death. Until a shameful encounter with Caird of enemy clan Colquhoun proves a distraction she can’t ignore...

Nothing could prepare Mairead for the path she’s thrown onto when the secrets of a jeweled dagger are revealed and she finds herself kidnapped by this sexy highlander! With Mairead’s recklessness a perfect foil to Caird’s cool command, can these two enemies set their clans’ differences aside and surrender to the desire that rages between them?

To find out more about Nicole Locke, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter.


  1. I love this- such a great idea! Might have to give it a try some time.

  2. Love this, Nicole, I have heard of writers writing on the train - but never the underground. Love it! ;-)