Sunday 3 August 2014

Writers Write (or, What I Really Do All Day)

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you're probably getting a very skewed idea of my life. I drink lots of coffee, I'm always sneaking off for champagne and cake with the Novelistas or shooing escaped farmyard animals out of my kitchen. You know I live in Wales, because I grumble about the weather and Instagram photos of sheep. And, oh yes, apparently I sometimes write books. Look, check the header, it's official: 'Sometimes writes books'.

I am supposed to be a full-time writer but sometimes it does feel like 'sometimes' rather than 'all the time'. So what, exactly, do I do all day?

Let's start with a photo of my desk. It doesn't always look like this. In fact, it never looks like this, which is why I took a photo of it about two years ago. If you could see it now, there are two huge piles of crap important paperwork on either side of me, with about an inch of space around my laptop.

I set my alarm for seven, even on weekends, even on holidays. (It's amazing how motivated you can be when you're self-employed.) While the rest of my family (one husband, two children, one hamster) fight it out for the bathroom (not the hamster; she makes her own arrangements), I switch on my laptop and read newspapers and blogs and link anything I find interesting to Twitter, Facebook, etc. Back when I had a 'proper' job (or, as my son likes to put it, 'when dinosaurs roamed the earth'), one of my roles was to read the morning papers and identify trends. I suspect I spent more time reading up on celebrity exploits rather than identifying trends, but the training came in useful and it's now become a habit.

Where were we? Oh yes, newspapers, blogs, social networking. Followed by chores. I have no staff (excuse me while I roll around the floor laughing) and you can tell how well the current book is going by how clean my house is. Then I stop for coffee, to include answering emails and more social networking. Tip: If you find yourself being sucked in by Twitter, Facebook and all the rest of it, set yourself a time limit! In and out. Think: Networking Ninja. Got it?

After my coffee break and the Networking Ninja-ing, I write until I break for lunch. (I've blogged about my writing process here and how I use notebooks to write here). If the writing is going well, I read someone else's book. If it's not, I'm stuck with reading my own book, emailed to my Kindle Fire. Somehow it looks different on a Kindle and I find it easier to identify which parts are not working. I use the highlighting feature: pink for the parts I need to delete, orange for the parts that need to be reworded, blue for punctuation issues and yellow for everything else. The text-to-speech option also helps me spot the odd missing or repeated word, and stops me falling asleep over my own book.

And then it's back to work. I stop to do the school run and cook dinner and sometimes work into the evening, or into the night if it's really not going well. It takes me a morning to write a blog post or an article, two weeks to a month to write a short story/novella (depending on length) and nine to twelve months to write a book. I also design my own book covers, which you can read about here.

If I leave the house (yes, I do occasionally leave the house) I take my Kindle with me, and when I go to sleep I'm sure you can work out what I'm dreaming about.

So there you have it, that's what I do all day: write books, novellas, short stories, blog posts and articles - and do you know what? I wouldn't have it any other way.

Because I'm a writer, and writers write.

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