book review – ‘how i write’

The title’s a nod to the famous Orwell essay ‘Why I Write’, but the premise is quite different. This is a mainly visual compilation of the personal crutches, good luck charms, window views and ergonomic quirks that help writers to… well… write. In other words, a rare glimpse into the working environments of authors like Douglas Coupland, Alain de Botton, Michael Faber and Ian Rankin.

Above: Write. Are we sitting comfortably?

Will Self has a wall of regimented Post-It notes, which he uses to arrange ideas and bits of dialogue; Jonathan Letham collects pages and pages of names; Nicolson Baker has drawers full of ear plugs; Jonathan Franzen swears by his squeaky office chair.Me? Well thanks for asking. I have a pair of bright orange office chairs, and three outsize pin-boards peppered with personal artefacts – a photo of Stevie Wonder in his 70s pomp; a B-52’s badge I had at university; garlic packaging in the shape of a coffin; and a pair of joke eyebrows given to me by typographic designer Jon Barnbrook.

‘How I Write – The Secret Lives of Authors’Edited by Dan CrowRizzoli, £19.95 list, or £13.97 on Amazon

click to download pdf.