Writer’s guide to staying warm in winter

It’s cold are you’re meant to be working and there’s no one sitting in the chair next to you guilting you into getting on with it. And the ink in your pen froze and you can’t remember what your feet look like under three pairs of socks.

Quit whining, start writing. Here’s a few ways to stay warm while you do it.

  • Use the surge protector on your laptop charger as an additional source of warmth. Particularly good for soothing chilled feet or working on niggling back pain.
  • Don’t squander that envy you feel when you see other people posting their daily word count/book deal/perfect score, bank it up and let it burn bright enough to get you sweaty in your “officewear” onesie.
  • Build yourself a blanket, cushion and woollies mountain so intricate that you couldn’t extract yourself to open the door, even if you wanted to.
  • Do all of your plotting in the shower. Not only is it the only place you’ll be warm, but you won’t even have to exercise willpower to stop yourself checking the progress of your peers on Facebook et al.
  • DSC00440

  • Eat only comfort foods. It’s cold outside, dammit. on the other hand, you can spend a lot of time making soup. It won’t get words on the page but it will offer an alternative sense of achievement.
  • Cold weather gives procrastination in the form of team making a whole new level. Plus side, no one bats at eye when you make three cups and hour. Downside, you have to visit the freezing bathroom almost as frequently.
  • Get out of the house. Eek what little sunshine you can from the day and take your notes to a friendly café. Just don’t choose the seat by the door or you’ll waste all of your thinking time shooting evils at people who must have been born in a barn while blasts of cold wind ruffle your pages.
  • Stop saying you’ll work harder in summer, no one believes you. Least of all you.
  • Office survival tips for writers, dreamers and creative control freaks #4

    Sometimes the office is just too good at sapping your will to live (just look at the fact last week’s list went awol), but we can’t give into the temptation to stultify our minds and solidify our souls – we must fight against boredom while we still can!

    10. Swap the seats. Fight against all of your natural impulses and come in early one day and this will give you the chance for some craftiness that will have far reaching consequences. Basically, what you want to do is take all of those natty office chairs and mix them up. Put the IT department’s austere chairs with the analysts, the creative team’s yoga balls under the desks of the finance team and just make sure everything is generally as mixed up as possible.

    Then you can sit and smirk as you watch people get really shirty about their chairs – it’s funny how attached people become to the things they sit in 40 hours a week – and the amount of time it will take for everyone to swap back will be a pleasant diversion for the whole office.

    11. Fill in petitions. You feel bad about abandoning all those things you felt so passionate about don’t you? You hate the fact you signed away your freedom for a paycheck and a computer right? Don’t let it eat away at you every day, salve your conscience and kill some time by finding online petitions for you to support. It won’t be hard for you to fcome across plenty of worthy causes, just make sure you don’t sign any that have time stamps until your lunch break – unless you’re willing to face the potential flak.

    12. Get to grips with graffiti. You don’t want to actually deface work property, well, you might WANT to, but I’d only advise that for people actively looking for their p45s, but some inoffensive graffiti can be a great way to indulge your creative streak and also spread some amusement. To avoid having to scratch your missives into paintwork or desks, Post-it notes can be your choice of weapon – just get doodling and sticking

    Lynsey's p45

    Let’s face it, the communal areas of the office are pretty dire – and where’s more depressing than those horrible shared bathrooms? – get your graffiti on and give people something to read as they consider succumbing to the ennui and despair that rears its head when you’re making your daily seventh cup of tea. Gently slagging is fine, don’t rip your boss if you’ve got distinctive handwriting though!

    If those aren’t enough to be getting on with, maybe the back catalogue of office survival tips will help. And if none of those dispel your displeasure, then I’m sorry my favourite office monkeys – but I will accept my failures and try and do better next time.

    Office survival tips for writers, dreamers and creative control freaks #3

    You can’t do exercises at your desk without getting some really weird looks, so stretch your mind and test your wits with my top tips for frustrated office monkeys everywhere.

    There’s a theme to this week’s office survival suggestions and that’s because hate them, tolerate them, forge friendships with them, or hate them more, your colleagues are the ones that you’ll be spending more time with than any of your loved ones for the duration of your time in the office. Learn to love them or make them your playthings, the choice is all yours.

    7. Play office matchmaker. Offices are rife with potential for romance and all of the boredom-defying drama that comes with it. You may have been content to be a passive observer in the past, but when you’re in need of a way to stop your soul from withering away, what could be better than a little matchmaking? Not only will this triple if not quadruple office gossip (i.e. the only thing that makes as little office drones prick up our ears on the long arid stretch between nine and five), but it gives you plenty of time to use your creative skills. They sit on different floors? Not a problem if you make sure you put her favourite coffee mug on his desk or his scarf under her chair. Shyness is stopping them hooking up? Start sneaking gin into their drinks as Friday home time draws closer.

    Office romance cartoon

    9. Work out anagrams of your business and colleagues. When it feels as though your brain cells have begun fighting among themselves for the smallest smidgen of stimulation, try kick starting them with a few word games (oh how I love the word games) Easiest to get started on is working out what things you can spell using the letters of your desk mates for The Man that employs you.

    Cameo cinema (oh how I miss you Cameo)
    A Mecca o’ mine

    Lynsey May
    Say my lyne

    The Piemaker (don’t miss you quite so much)
    Tame her pike

    Sometimes the results are better than others, especially when you don’t have to resort to ‘interesting’ spellings.

    8. Become a copy cat. This is one that is only suitable for the really bored and the really quite brave. What you need to do is choose a colleague and make it your mission for the day to do everything they do – only 10 minutes later. So, for example, they go to make a cup of tea, you go to make a cup of tea. They go to the bathroom, you go to the bathroom. They make a stupid yawny noise, so do you. They do something inappropriate to another member of staff, well… only the truly dedicated will follow the mission to the bitter end. This will not leave you fulfilled or happy, but the need to constantly aware of what your chosen victim is up to will speed the hours up wonderfully.

    That’s all I have time for today, there are a few interns and new starts in the office and I really need to get working on my Haikus and anagrams. The old(er) office survival tips live on, choose a course and stay strong.

    Formula for a book club fave? Not quite

    The creator of the Richard and Jody book club gave the Times her top tips for writing a book club favourite today. Quite interesting, if generally depressing, stuff. I don’t even know why it depresses me. There’s nothing wrong with book clubs per se, in fact I technically think they are awesome in a get-people-excited-about-reading kind of way.

    I reckon Amanda Ross does give a pretty good list of things to avoid, however. I just like the idea that most intelligent writers would already be certain not to write memoirs about nothing or hideous copies of popular past titles.

    Anyway, maybe I’m just prejudiced against book clubs because the only time I went to one, we did Yes Man by Danny Wallace and it made me want to be sick every few pages. I ain’t no Yes Man. If anything, I’m more of a No Girl.

    Real life – the writer’s best and worst friend

    When I started blogging I assumed I’d end up giving it up pretty quickly. While that hasn’t happened (yet!), this last week has reminded me how easy it is to let writing slip when your real life intervenes.

    I’ve had a mental week, some things have been good, some things bad and some just stressful. This has meant that I’ve had little time for writing, and of course the fact that I’ve been failing to meet my internal daily/weekly goals has been making me feel even worse.

    However, the experience has lefty me feeling rather contemplative, and not just because I’ll take any excuse for a day dream. The question I’ve been pondering is: without a few madcap weeks every now and then, would I be a lot worse off for material? Nothing I write is biographical, and I never transpose real life experiences straight into fiction, but without that kind of frantic inspiration actual bad experiences give you I have a suspicion the creative process would be that much harder.

    Therefore, real life must be a writer’s best friend, as well as their worst. Without the world kicking me in the teeth or providing me with good news that sometimes almost defies belief every now and then, I could easily become complacent and fail to capture things as I actually see them – instead relying on flimsy imaginary constructions. The only problem is trying to keep real life at bay long enough to scribble the thoughts down! Hopefully the coming weeks will give me the opportunity to do just that.

    Boost your profile or get paid for your art?

    It’s interesting the way that powerful companies think that their might makes them irresistible to everyone. And while that may sometimes be the case, especially when it comes to other corporations with hungry marketing departments, it isn’t always. Sometimes artists and creative types would prefer to keep their clientele loyal and their work profitable rather than gaining mass exposure but no cash for their efforts.

    The NYT carried a story this weekend that said that net-powerhouse Google spun an initiative where it invited loads of prominent artists to display their artwork on its new Chrome web browser, the catch being that they wouldn’t be paid for the privilege. The search giants were probably kind of shocked when some of these artists turned them down – but that’s exactly what they did.

    With the whole Google Book Search thing hanging in the balance as authors and those responsible for author’s estates join forces with book publishers in questioning the project in court, it makes me wonder if Google thinks it’s above copyright laws.

    And if it does it’s only indicative of one of the greatest and most potentially damaging aspects of the web – they way it democratises art yet makes it increasingly difficult for the creators of said art to control and make money from it.

    Arguments about digital pirating refuse to die down, mainly because no major industry has worked out a failsafe way to deal with it yet. Hopefully the literary scene will come up with a more successful solution than the music industry did, seeing as musicians have the option of boosting tour ticket prices while authors really don’t.

    It’s a strange argument, that between expanding your profile and protecting your investment. While plenty of people will tell you that exposure is everything and obscurity is the real death of the artist, so many writers and artists are gaining notoriety yet earning next to nothing. And if everyone has to work a day job, how will they produce the art we all enjoy?