I just got back from two weeks off, six days of which that were consumed by a trip back home to see friends and family. The central event was a wedding – my youngest cousin getting hitched. Weddings are a nice way to cram in a ton of face time with a lot of extended family in one action-packed evening, clearing the deck essentially and putting you into the clear for another year. Of course, being a writer, I’m never fully “on holiday” – my mind’s always going, and in this case, the holiday included meetings with some producers, discussions about the comic book series, and the manuscript, and a couple film and TV projects. So, no, not in the traditional sense. Even the book I read was related to work. It’s how I relax. Back off.
Anyway at the wedding, the usual questions about my work were asked, and I was my usually tight-lipped self as I don’t really like to talk about work while on vacation (because, well, because I’m still working). I think I get asked anyway because deep down a lot of my family don’t believe what I do to be actual “work.” I mean, I don’t have to commute, I don’t have a boss in the traditional sense, I don’t have a “real job” as they would define it.
Well, I say nuts to that. Want to know what a typical day for me involves? No? Well, tough shit. Here’s a rough timeline:
Wake up, make coffee, spend time with wife. Once she’s left for her “real job” I go to my office, boot my computer up, check email (but don’t answer any), read some regular news sites, waste time on Facebook and Twitter and generally shake the cobwebs loose, counting down until …
Start writing or working on whatever of my multiple projects are in the priority position. This week and the next several are all about preparing my manuscript (the one I’ve been working on for the last four years) for submission. I disconnect from email, and internet distractions and focus on writing for two solid hours (with a 10-15 minute break at the hour mark to stretch my legs, get up, walk around, make breakfast, clear my head. Then, back to the grind for another hour or so. Then, another break followed by …
At the 2 hour mark, I close the book on my first project, and use the remaining hour to work on something else, in this case chapters for the next manuscript, which are going to accompany the first manuscript when it goes out the door. By now I’m more limber having spent two hours editing, so usually can knock out a solid 700-1000 or so words by lunchtime. Yep, I’m a machine.
I check emails again, and start composing my responses to the ones I received first thing in the morning (but don’t send them).
Shower and get dressed, grab the mail and, weather permitting, take a nice walk in the park near my apartment. Exercise is very important, and often when stuck on a plot point, the solution reveals itself when some much needed oxygen is pumped into my brain. By 1:30 I try and be back home in my office to continue work. But afternoon work is less creative than morning, because from …
I focus on the business side of things; the nuts and bolts of the job. I’m currently devising a fundraising campaign for another project, and for the next 90 minutes I work on that, along with any memos or point-form notes for the various phone and Skype conversations I have through the afternoon, to keep the business side of the writing business alive. I try and schedule any calls for early-mid afternoon. Morning is when I write and I like to keep that time free. I don’t even answer the phone in the mornings, content to let the machine pick up. If it’s important they’ll leave a message, right. Come to think of it, I should really connect the machine. Anyway I take up a good 90 minutes of this and am so sick of it by the end of the process that I’m itching to get creative again. After another break to clear my head, stretch the legs, I spend
Hard at work on something fresh. This week it’s scripting stuff, namely a TV series I’m in development on. This is usually done away from the computer, longhand notes, maybe with a movie on as white noise, but usually with music on in the background. Character bios, series arcs, episode breakdowns; not “scripting” yet but rather getting things moving to the point where scripting can commence. Since this is, format-wise, different from prose, it’s something that puts the more creative work out of my mind, so when I start back into it the next day I’m looking at everything with a fresh gaze.
In the last five minutes of my working day, I send those work emails that have been composed earlier in the day, and check on messages that have come in during the interim. Responding is the last thing I do. Once that’s out of the way I’m done with the computer, with the internet, with the emails. Any responses to my emails can wait to be read until the next day. The reason I don’t answer emails until the end of the day is because it keeps me from breaking concentration to keep checking for a response throughout the day. Now I’m free and clear for:
Laundry, dishes, dinner, cleaning – basically the stuff I’ve neglected throughout the day because I was working. My wife is home around 7:00 and the rest of the evening is devoted to time together. It’s hard to “switch work off” mentally so I like to have a good couple hours away from it for when she comes home. Otherwise I’m not really here – at worst I’m back tapping away when I should be decompressing.
So that’s my day, in a nutshell, Monday through Friday and (depending on the deadline) Saturday and Sunday, but not often. I like keeping my weekends clear for non-work related things – friends, family, life. A writer is always writing, but that’s no good reason to spend your entire life at your desk is it?
I realize I’m insanely lucky to be able to write as a full-time occupation. Many writers are not that lucky; they balance their passion with what it takes to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. It’s a good life — a damn good one in point of fact, and one that gets better by the day. Now go bug someone else — I’m busy writing!
[How about all you writers out there? How do you spend your days? Let me know on Twitter and Facebook.]