Room 101: Writers’ Revenge

ROOM 101

Despite studying George Orwell for A-level, many (many) moons ago, whenever I hear the phrase ‘Room 101’ I tend to think of the BBC comedy series rather than the torture chamber in Nineteen Eighty-Four.  (Yep.  All about the literary culture and class, that’s me…)

The television show has gone through a number of presenters and formats since its first airing, way back in 1994, but the general premise remains the same: celebrity guests must, by the persuasiveness of their argument, convince the host to consign their chosen pet hate to the titular Room 101.

Celebrity or otherwise, I’m sure everyone can think of something they’d like to see the back of…


… but I thought it might be fun to try a writers’ version of the game.  What writing-specific bugbear would you merrily consign to the annals of history?

Here’s a few ideas to start you off…

  • computer updates… computer crashes… computers in general…
  • rejections (say no more)
  • typos that definitely, definitely weren’t there when you pressed ‘Send’
  • spotting your breathtakingly original idea for a novel (the one that’s going to make you a household literary name) in book form, in Waterstones…
  • one star Amazon reviews  
  • waiting.  Oh the endless waiting…

I’ve gone a bit old school with my own choice, mainly because I’m sitting here looking at one of the culprits right now, my blood pressure rising at the very sight of it…

…Yes, it’s pencil rubbers THAT DON’T RUB OUT!!  You know the kind I mean, those hard shiny ones that leave black smears all over your lovely new notebook *grinds teeth* without getting rid of a single mistake.  They’re the mistake, if you ask me.


Why go to all the trouble of adding an eraser to a pencil if it doesn’t actually erase anything?  Why, oh why, oh why?  It’s probably a perfectly good pencil in every other respect – writing and sharpening like a good ‘un – but if it’s got an evil smudger for a rubber then it’s straight into Room 101 with it, as far as I’m concerned.  Harsh but fair, I’m sure you’ll agree…

Any other writerly suggestions out there to keep the poor feller company?

(Update – 28th March: If you’re feeling the Room 101 love (or hate) I’ve just spotted this competition from Brentwood Writers’ Circle who are looking for Room 101 entries of exactly 101 words, closing 30th April.)



Putting the ‘No’ into ‘Notebook’


At the recent SCBWI conference David Almond treated us to a peek inside his crowded notebooks: every page a fabulous cacophony of ink; of bubbled notes and looping arrows; of doodled diagrams and scribblings out.  That, I thought, is what a proper writer’s notebook should look like.

Now, I can scribble, doodle and cross things out with the best of them. Oh yes.  And I’m a black belt in the art of arrow drawing.  But only in ratty old exercise books rescued from the back of a 1970s office stationery cupboard.  Or on a spare page from last year’s diary.  Or a bunch of old envelopes.  Show me the back of a Christmas card and I’m off, scribbling for Britain. But heaven forbid I mess up my lovely notebook collection with a scruffy bunch of still-fermenting ideas. Oh no.  I’m saving them

Which is why I must have been feeling unusually reckless when I packed my writing bag this morning.  When I threw caution to the bitter North wind and slipped in one of my favourite too-nice-to-actually-use A5 beauties…



These ones even have my name on them – if that’s not permission to scrawl I don’t know what is.


… It was all going so well. I settled into my train seat, pulled down the fold-out table, reached into my bag for my pencil and notebook… and instead pulled out a wodge of scrap paper (one side already printed on) that I’d brought along ‘just in case’. And then I got to work.  Sorry, notebook.  Maybe next time.