Vox pop – February 2008

Hampstead or Harrogate? Leeds or Land’s End? Bristol or Belfast? Where’s the best place for a writer to ply their trade these days?

Richard Owsley, Bristol

Thanks to the internet, yesterday I worked in Australia, today it’s Paris and tomorrow it’s Newbury. Yesterday I went to my daughter’s school parents’ evening in Bristol and tonight I’ll take my son to football training in Bristol. So modern technology works for me. More importantly it works for the clients, who can choose the most appropriate writer regardless of location. The only place it sometimes breaks down is the agency in the middle – who seem to think the only qualities needed in a writer are to be available tomorrow and to live round the corner.

Andrew Arnold, Copenhagen

Swapping London for Copenhagen was a great move for me. Big cities have never been my ideal place to live and the idea of a European capital city that wasn’t too big was very attractive. Danish companies are very international so there’s a fair supply of writing work, copyediting or translation to English. IT is well advanced and I can send press releases out or chat to journalists on the other side of the world at next to no cost. The creative climate is good and there’s a great deal of focus on communications as a discipline, so there are fewer of the squabbles between PR, marketing and advertising as to who is the most impotent (sorry, important). Danes are disciplined workers and don’t waste time, which means there’s more time for families.

Jim Davies, Warwickshire

‘Locationism’ is a thing of the past. I moved out of London to leafy Warwickshire a few years ago when we started having a family – despite my pre-move concerns, the change of address doesn’t seem to have made much difference to the amount or quality of work coming in. I take the train into London a couple of times a week to pick up briefs, and everything else is done by phone, email and PDFs. If you’re starting out, London is the only place to be, but with a reasonable client base and a MacBook Air, you could happily ply your trade from the Moon.

Roger Horberry, York

As someone who has freelanced in Yorkshire for the last five years I can confirm London spanks the north in terms of both quality and quantity of work. There are honorable exceptions (Elmwood in Leeds, Like A River in Manchester and theWorkshop (sic) in Sheffield for example), but without the East Coast Mainline I’d be stuffed. Sorry, but that’s my experience.

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