In all the years I’ve been writing, it’s been interesting to hear non-writer perspectives about what an author’s life is really like. A lot of people think we earn heaps of money, wonder why we still work full-time if we’ve got books published, and ask why it takes so long to finish a book.
Well, first off, 90% of book profits are earned by 10% of authors (don’t ask me where I read that statistic, but it’s the one most often used). Most authors keep their day job because it’s what pays the bills. And writing story can be a very painful process. Sometimes a scene comes with ease but, often enough, writing a novel is like pushing out a baby. Painful at times, though with a tremendous amount of glory once it’s all over.
Which leads to the point of this blog. The other day, someone asked me what it’s like to be a published author. They wanted to know what my typical writing day is like. I thought about that and figured, what the hell. I’ll share what a real writing day is like right here.
This is what I want my writing days to be like:
- I wake up at 4:30am so I can catch my train to my office in NYC. For the first 45 minutes of the train ride, I write. I’ve got a full scene in my head and the words fly out of my brain, through my hands, and onto the screen. I’m pretty happy with what I write.
- On the way home from work, I read. That’s a vacation for my mind. It helps me de-stress from work and sparks creativity.
- At night, I watch some television. Also, for creative spark. That’s when I copy over the day’s scene into Scrivener (the tool I use to write), back up my copies, and then snuggle up in bed thinking about the next scene I want to write the next morning.
- Saturdays are reserved for blog work and marketing and promo and social media for the upcoming week. When I do this, no one bothers me.
- Sundays are strictly reserved for more writing. When I do this, no one bothers me.
- Then the next Monday comes and I start all over again.
I’m laughing as I reread those hopeful 6 steps. Because this is what my real writing days are like:
- I wake up at 4:30 so I can catch my train to my office in NYC. I open my laptop and stare at a blank screen. The words won’t come. I turn on my iTunes playlist to get the creative spark going, and push out about 500 words. Operative word: push.
- Often I stare out the train window, trying to find inspiration to write the next scene. I crank up the playlist even louder to get the creative sparks going.
- Someone sits next to me on the train and sighs a lot. Apparently they don’t like sitting next to people who work on their laptops during a commute. I ignore the passive-aggressive behavior and crank up the playlist even louder to drown them out. Oh, and I still have a semi-blank screen in front of me, but at least it’s not completely blank. Progress!
- On the way home from work, I fall asleep for about a half hour. I’m exhausted from work and the fact that I’ve been up 13-14 hours already. Then I sneak in 15 minutes of reading, if I can. Once I wake up, I crank up the playlist to get the creative sparks going. But instead, I start thinking about cooking dinner, paying bills, and the open items I have from work that day.
- I’ll ping my best friend and vent. Many times, I curse.
- When I get home, I do yoga and meditate to reconnect with myself and find mental and spiritual balance. I feel refreshed when I’m done.
- At night, I transfer my morning writing to Scrivener and back up files. I reread what I wrote earlier that day. Decide it’s crap. Go to bed trying to figure out how to fix said crap.
- The next morning, the routine starts again on the train. If I’m lucky, I’ve reworked the scene in my head and know where I went wrong (it’s usually lack of conflict). I rewrite what I wrote the day before. I crank up the iTunes playlist to get the creative sparks going.
- I go to bed that night, trying to figure out how to make that day’s scene sing. My last thoughts before I fall asleep are always of my story or the characters.
- This continues through Thursday or Friday.
- On Saturday, I practice yoga and run. Then it’s laundry, food shopping, errands. Somewhere in between, I sneak in blog work and marketing and promo and social media for the upcoming week. This is done typically with the laptop in the kitchen while I bounce around the house and back to the laptop over and over again, to finish what I’ve set out to do. I’m always interrupted. I write story notes on stickies and plop them on the kitchen counter – prompts for what I want to write during the week. I operate off a to-do list because, without one, I’d forget half the crap I have to get done.
- Saturdays are also reserved for more writing. I fire up the laptop, get homemade iced tea or water to keep me hydrated, and crank up the playlist to get the creative sparks going.
- The words come. Alleluia! Just as I hit my stride, the washing machine dings.
- I put the laundry in the dryer and the next load in the washer, and I sit down at the laptop again. Someone on one of the writer groups pings with a question. I answer it. Sometimes two or three or more requests may follow.
- Fifteen to thirty minutes later, after I’m done helping the friends, I’ve forgotten what I was writing. I go back to what I’ve written, read it, then wonder how in the gods names I thought that scene was a good idea. I hit Delete Delete Delete.
- But then…BAM! The words come again and I’ve hit my stride! <Insert Hallelujah Chorus here> Then the dryer dings.
- I’ll ping my best friend and vent. Many times, I curse.
- I go back to the scene, reread it, and hit the delete key again. Wipe out a sentence. Then two. Then whole paragraphs. Sometimes it’s a whole chapter.
- I stare at a blank screen. Sometimes I’ll put bullshit text on a page just so I feel like I’ve written something.
- Saturday night is reserved for date time with Left Brain, hanging out with friends, having friends over, or seeing a movie. For some reason, this is when nearly all of my creativity explodes in my head and I feverishly type out my notes on my iPhone to copy over to my working file the next morning. Left Brain thinks this creativity is prompted by the wine we drink on weekends. He may be right.
- On Sunday, I practice more yoga and run. Then the rest of the day is strictly reserved for more writing – in between laundry, ironing, final food shopping, and prep for the work week. I’m always interrupted. Left Brain and I have another date night to close the weekend, either by the fire in the winter or the pool in the summer. Two hours into bed time, my brain goes wild with all kinds of story to write during the week. After an hour of typing all this stuff out on my iPhone to work on during the week, I go to bed content. Because, you know, this writing week will finally be different from all the others…
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