Now, we all know just sitting and thinking is an important part of writing. But where do you do this sitting and thinking? If you do it at home, there’s a chance you’ll get distracted by the other things you have to do, like the washing up. Or, if you live with someone, they’ll assume you’re doing nothing, and interrupt you. The park can be cold, the coffee shop can be an awkward place to just sit and stare – people get uncomfortable. So I like to do it on the bus.
I go out of rush hour, to make sure I get a window seat. Gazing out of the window is very important. And hopefully I won’t get anyone sitting next to me, so I won’t be distracted by someone’s music or phone conversation.
The route I take lasts about an hour, and it goes from almost outside my house, through three high streets, past an atmospheric graveyard, past a stately home, past a house where Virginia Woolf used to live, past a scene Turner and Constable have painted, and then over a river.
I can daydream to my heart’s content, and all that going past my window means I get a lot of stimulation. The graveyard is going in a book (and I’ve seen it other people’s books too). I can people watch and no-one will notice. All that scenery and life is wonderful for making me think.
And the other good thing about the bus is other people’s conversation. People sit and chat about all kinds of things, just as if they were at home, and you can eavesdrop on them very easily. I’ve overheard all kinds of things, including intimate details about divorces and medical problems and jobs. And it’s great for listening to people’s speech patterns, and catching how they talk.
At at the other end of my journey is a coffee shop where I can sit and write down everything I’ve just heard off. So there you go – need to sit and think your story out? Get on the bus! (the train works quite well too, as long as it’s not too crowded). Some bus route about an hour, with a lot to see, and a bit to listen to.