This year, I became a creative writer. Having left the world of academic essays behind, I quickly discovered that the computer rooms in the UEA library no longer sufficed. I needed somewhere a little less stuffy, and a little more, well, inspiring to do my writing. So, I have been on a mission to find the best places to write (creatively) in Norwich.
I began with Café Nero. It has plenty of tables, so finding a space wasn’t an issue. It’s also small enough that it never got too crowded or loud. Located in the middle of the Golden Triangle, it’s the perfect writing haunt for those who of us living near Unthank Road, and it has quickly become my new favourite.
Next, I tried my favourite restaurant in Norwich: The Workshop. Its hipster vibe and pretty funky interior decoration definitely got the creative juices owing, but working here proved risky: visit too often and your money is quickly spent on tapas. It’s a coffee-shop by day, restaurant by night sort of place, so if you’re looking for somewhere a bit quieter to write, you’re best off visiting in the afternoon.
Broke, and full of Nero’s coffee and Workshop Hummus, I relocated to Millenium Library. There was no need to spend my money on coffee, and I was surrounded by books: perfect for any writer! I was a little upset to be kicked out at five, the library’s Saturday closing time. For those who prefer working the evening, this is better visited on week days, when it closes at seven.
With Venue production week looming, it was time to bring my writer’s tour of Norwich back to campus. Next and last stop: UEA’s very own cosy coffee shop, Ziggy’s. This is a great place to work on your writing between lectures, before a trip to Red Bar, after adviser meetings: anytime when being on campus is just more convenient. I found this was one to be avoided at lunchtime though, when it becomes near impossible to find a table.
I am looking forward to continuing my tour throughout the year; there are way too many lovely hidden gems in Norwich to write about them all. But for now, if you need me, I’ll be at Café Nero. – Kate Romain
Venture into the wild…
A poet must always be in motion. A writer locked inside is a writer not moving fast enough to smash out of the metaphorical box they are thinking in.
I walk a lot. I write a lot. The walker’s mind is free like the dreamer’s mind. Free from the judgement of the blank A4 document. Free from the logic of later, lounging with a laptop and crafting the insanity I’ve spawned into recognisable genius. Even better is running. Once you get into a rhythm, your brain just thinks stuff. It’s great. And then when you get back home you have an excuse to eat cake, take a long shower, and sprawl in your dressing gown writing up all the great ideas you had.
Sometimes I carry a notebook and pencil with rubber — other times I just use my phone, so I can touch-type. That way I don’t even have to look down as I write. The world goes straight through my pupils to my fingers and onto my phone, no glancing up and down. It’s a more intimate experience, and also I trip over far less.
Often though, the view is so enchanting from the top of the hill that however long I sit there, following the flight of the birds, breathing in the summer blossom, straining my ears but happily hearing no traffic or industry of any sort, that I forget to write. Or take a photograph. The moment was too true, too existential, to put into words without the distortion of memory to prepare it for wordification.
That is why writing outdoors is usually the pre-draft; the raw, unfiltered inspiration that provides the material and the tools with which to craft something awesome. But not always. Something I miss from living in the country is sitting in my back garden, watching the cows in the fields, hearing the breakers on the beach over the motorway, feeling the southern wind on my cheeks, as I tap away on my laptop all day long. Now my garden is surrounded on all sides by fences and bricks, and I sit outside less.
Instead, I garden. Digging my hands into the soil and pulling out weeds, gently moving earthworms, studying spiders, letting my brain go off on its own little tangent. As they say — probably, somewhere, maybe — keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds. – Jono Mcdermott