How lockdown has inspired me to create a writing room - Ian McMillan

Amazing the changes, physically and mentally, that lockdown is forcing us into; on one level there are all the human things like gathering in crowds and sitting in cafes and pubs in close proximity to other people, but on a professional level I’ve found myself completely altering the way I work.

The Yorkshire Post columnist Ian McMillan, who has changed where he works as a result of the lockdown.
The Yorkshire Post columnist Ian McMillan, who has changed where he works as a result of the lockdown.

For decades (and I’m sure I’ve written about it here before) I’ve been happy to sit downstairs and write at the dining table, amidst the noise and hubbub of everyday life.

I’ve been happy to move my laptop and books while we have our dinner, and then put them back again when the washing-up’s done. I genuinely enjoyed the idea of the writer being part of the world and not cut off from it behind a study door.

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Then, as they say, coronavirus happened. I couldn’t really travel safely to Salford to record my Radio 3 show The Verb and so it was decided that, like lots of other presenters, I’d do the show from home.

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Except, of course, there was no microphone and no headphones and for a few brief moments I thought I might have to shout my script and questions from the front door, but then a man from the BBC arrived with the equipment and (suitably socially distanced) set it up and showed me how to use it. I can’t really explain it except that I plug something into my phone and I press a button and there I am, speaking to the world.

I’ve done a few programmes now and I have to admit I love it; I like going upstairs and closing the door and pressing the button and putting the headphones on. Then, after a couple of weeks, a thought occurred to me: could my studio also become a writing space?

Could I turn it into that thing I’d scoffed at for so long, a study? After all, I wouldn’t need to do much. I could just move the microphone to one side, put the laptop in the middle of the table and, er, that’s it. I really don’t know why I didn’t do it years ago.

Well, maybe I do. Before, I’d be rushing off to do recordings and performances and workshops and so when I was at home I’d enjoy sitting writing in the back room rather than sitting on a train scribbling.

But now, like everybody else, I’m at home all the time so I need a space that is not the space I’m in all the time. So here I am, writing in my writing room. And all the books are looking down at me and urging me to keep going.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

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Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson