I’m the one responsible for this page in Writing Magazine every month. I also write Novel Ideas .
For this feature I get to interview writers and ask them exactly what it says in the title – what their writing day is like. Most of them seem to work very hard and have consequently reaped the rewards. Before I was asked to write this page I had already written my own version for Link, the newsletter for NAWG.
My Writing Day (the truth)
I love reading the articles in writing magazines where a well-known writer tells of the pattern of their working day. I’ll settle in the armchair, cup of tea by my side, specs on my nose and read every word in the hope of finding out the secret of success. And as I read I mutter.
And a lot of you out there don’t like the use of expletives, I won’t go into detail about what my mutterings consist of. Cleaned up it would be something like, ‘Oh, you fibber.’ ‘I bet you do.’ ‘Before breakfast? Pull the other one.’
As the air above my tea-cup turns blue my husband asks, ‘If it upsets you that much, why read it?’ He’s got a point.
A typical piece goes like this - sensible fat-free breakfast, often after exercise. Go to study, switch on p.c. and write 2,000 words before lunch consisting of salad. After the afternoon walk the morning’s work is checked, edited, polished. After dinner the business side takes place - phone calls and emails to answer, letters to write, hopefully invoices to send and then it’s off for an early night to refresh the brain cells.
‘B******s!’ I’ve heard of suspension of disbelief but do they seriously expect us to swallow that? If those writers are honestly that industrious and living such a healthy life all I can say is they deserve a sainthood. Each and every one of them. ‘But...’ a little voice says inside my head, ‘...perhaps that’s why they’re successful and you haven’t quite got there yet.’
My personal Jiminy Cricket may have a point. My writing day is so different to theirs. I give it to you in all its glory.
Wake up late. Make porridge served with inch deep brown sugar. Think about taking a walk while watching Trisha and pretending it’s research. Then it’s clean the windows, mop the kitchen floor, even poop scoop the garden sooner than get down to some work. Maybe I’ll switch on my computer and check my emails to see if I’ve had any acceptances - several of the women’s magazines I contribute to contact me this way. Nothing doing so I switch off and wait for the postman. Trouble is he doesn’t arrive until noon. He hands me an envelope I recognise. It’s a rejection which calls for a Mars Bar. And then it’s time for lunch. I may well have salad but I have huge chunks of cheese with mine and half a loaf of crusty bread spread thickly with butter and then think about a walk but decide it’s time to write. Computer on I play a few games, get up and make a cup of tea which is so wet a slice of cake is needed to accompany it and while I pick off the chocolate icing to save until last I think about taking a walk but decide against it. We all know what happened to Steven King, don’t we?
After dinner (and pudding) I settle down to watch television or read a book written by one of those industrious authors. And, on the whole, that’s a true account of a typical working day for me.
On the other hand there are those days when I can produce 4,000 words between Mars Bars. At the time of writing this a valiant attempt is being made to keep up the word count while cutting down the chocolate consumption.
The one writer I totally agree with is Keith Waterhouse who once said, ‘One of the pleasures of writing for a living is having written.’ Give that man a Mars Bar.