I currently have three flatmates. We are all young women with the same day job (only I turn into a pumpkin in the evening).

And they are a nightmare.

They want to watch endless reruns of Friends. They tempt me into eating takeaway. One gossips constantly about celebrities. One simply cannot leave work at work. One hates chick flicks and another hates action movies. They are very sociable and worry when I’m out of the room for more than half an hour, which makes my writing targets pretty difficult to meet.

But they’re fantastic.

They love going to the cinema. They have unique speech patterns, backgrounds and quirks. Two have boyfriends and one is single, looking – and that all comes with its own drama. They love to go out to eat. We gossip about our colleagues, our mutual friends, our other friends and come up with our own spin on the rumour mill.

It’s like having a character factory in my living room.

The problem with writing is that it’s essentially solitary. Most of the process takes place in your head and sometimes you get to talk to other writers on the internet or meet up, but most of the time you’re alone.

James Moran talks extensively in his blog FAQ about how he worked a full-time job while rewriting Severance and therefore had no life. I admire his dedication but I also feel that my writing benefits from my social life (which mostly consists of sitting on the sofa and occasionally seeing that man I’m going to marry).

You need to live to write. You need to meet lots of different people from all walks of life and visit lots of different places, even if they’re all in your own town and the village down the road. How can you possibly know about all the character and setting potential open to you if your daily routine only covers one group of people and two locations?

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