Why I Write in Train Stations

Where we write matters. I've written before about how travelling makes you a better writer, about seeing new worlds and places and letting that change how you tell stories. It's something I believe in, and feel lucky to have done.

A question in the Writers' & Artists' message boards recently asked whether writers prefer to edit at home or out in a coffee shop (a cliche, maybe, but hot drinks you don't have to make yourself are awesome).

All that got me thinking. Where do I like to write most of all? At home? In a bar?

Actually, I prefer Option C. One of the best places to write, I think, is a train station.

Train stations are a very different place if you're not actually catching a train. The stress of travel, of being on time and having your tickets, is gone. You don't have luggage to contend with. Instead, you have the chance to sit, write, and be inspired. They're a brilliant place to write.

Here's why:

1. Train stations are often beautiful.

You might not believe me if your only experience is Birmingham's New Street (concrete chic with grey accents), but train stations - especially older ones - are often architectural marvels. Think Grand Central Station (actually, Terminal, but who's checking?). Bristol's Temple Meads was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. London's St Pancras is awe-inspiring - a secular cathedral as much as a transport hub. So many stations were built with care and artistry. The right station is a good place to be, let alone write in.

The Grand Terrace at St Pancras International

2. They have the best people watching

People watching without being creepy is a writer's right. Train stations give you crowds without any bias: all walks of life and all stages of life get mixed together. Young, old, different languages, different clothing - and all of it walking right past you.

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Bristol Temple Meads by Ben Brooksbank

3. They are inspiring.

Train stations represent travel at its most basic - moving from one place to another. Journeys coming to an end, journeys about to start, reunions, goodbyes - they're all there, and every one of them a story. Stations also give you plenty of good names, for places and for people, if you just pay attention to the announcements for a bit.

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Grand Central by Pete Stewart

Writing in train stations is something I've done for a long time. Shinjuku Station, Tokyo was one of the best date spots my fiancee and I found when we were in Japan. It will always mean a lot to me.

Train stations have their own magic. As long as you can find a seat and not be in people's way, you can stay as long as you want - or, let's be honest, take a spur-of-the-moment trip of your very own.

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