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A Day in the Life of an Author – Real Life Case Studies

by Nick Stephenson in Books and Writing

People always ask me, in between showering me with praise of course, about how an author spends their day. Just what do we get up to when everyone else is working an office job or cleaning sewers? (there are other careers available, but I’m not going to list them all here). “Is it all cocktail parties and book awards?” they ask, a look of glimmering admiration in their eyes. “Does your chauffeur drive you around town? Do you get to hang out with the movie stars headlining your latest big screen adaptation?

Once the tears of excitement and joy dry from their rosy cheeks, I offer a hearty chuckle and beckon them to take a knee. “Yes, dear reader. This and more,” I explain, giving their noses a little squeeze. “Why, a writer’s life is one filled with wonderment – would you like to know why?”

And the readers always nod, keen to understand how we higher beings spend our days, keen to understand what it’s like to paint words across the sky… So, as an offering to all the readers and authors out here, this is my guide to what an author should be doing with their day. Here we go. Take notes:

06:00am – you awaken to the sound of birdsong through the open window. After flinging on clothes, you go for a 4 mile run to get the creative juices going. While running, you come up with an outline for your next chapter.

07:00am – after a hot shower, you eat a hearty breakfast packed with low fat proteins and fibres, washing it all down with freshly squeezed orange juice. Your brain is now buzzing with energy and your fingers are already tingling – pulling you inexorably toward your office.

07:30am – with the rest of the family still asleep, you decide to get a couple of hours’ worth of writing done, putting the ideas you had on your run down onto paper. You sit down in your office/reading room/study, pulling your ergonomic chair up to the mahogany desk, and slip a fresh, crisp sheet of A4 into your antique typewriter. Your friends try to convince you to get a laptop, but you prefer the feel of the typewriter – the smell of white-out gets you all giddy, after all – and there’s just no substitute for real ink. No matter what anyone says.

09:30 – after cranking out 3,000 words in 2 hours, it’s time for a break. Perhaps some yoga, darling?

10:00 – with the rest of the family up and about, it’s time to leave the house. They’re far too noisy to allow your genius to escape onto the page. You jump into your electric car and head on out to meet your agent, who’s arranged to catch up with you about your latest work at the local coffee shop.

10:30 – you arrive at the coffee shop and easily park your super-compact battery powered vehicle in between 2 waitresses. Your adoring agent waves you over to your table, having ordered you a grande soy latte, and you get down to business. As expected, she absolutely adores your latest literary masterpiece – the tragic story of a vampire in love with a squirrel – and tells you two major publishers are currently embroiled in a bidding war for the print, ebook, and movie rights. The two of your toast your success and order some pastries.

12:00 – you get home to have lunch with the family and find that, while you were out, The Spouse and The Children have cleaned up the house, taken The Dog for a walk, and have prepared a nice, healthy lunch. Wonderful.

13:00 – it’s time for the big meeting. You’ve arranged to sit down with the producer of the upcoming movie production for your earlier book – another tragic story; the erotic tales of a dominatrix who seduces telephone repairmen – and he’s keen to discuss casting options. Your town car arrives and you climb in the back.

13:45 – at the five star hotel in town, you meet the movie producer at his penthouse suite and take a seat on the plush leather sofa. After a glass (or two) of champage, you both agree that Tom Cruise would make a great telephone repairman.

15:00 – now back at home, it’s more writing time. You sit down at the antique typewriter and get to work…

18:00 – bringing the total count up to 5,000 words for the day, you finish your last sentence of the evening and join The Spouse and The Children for dinner – they’ve all clubbed in and made you a delicious meal.

22:30 – after a few hours of playing with The Children and watching a little BBC Period Drama on the television, you and The Spouse head off to bed, keen to wake up tomorrow morning and enjoy the experience of life all over again…

Okay, okay. So maybe I played with artistic licence a little there. Maybe all writers’ lives aren’t quite so… okay fine. It’s a total crock. Sorry, kids – it’s not all peaches and cream in the writerly world, not even tinned peaches and cool-whip. Fine. You got me. Here’s a more realistic diary for you. Don’t tell anyone.

06:00am – you’re asleep. And you will be for at least another 3 hours. Who the hell gets up at 6am who doesn’t have to???

09:00am – reluctantly, you drag your tired body out of bed and stumble into the shower.

09:15 – trying not to wake The Dog, you avoid the carefully laid traps set by The Children, and make it to the kitchen, where you eat a bowl of coco pops and down a glass of Red Bull. This just about wakes you up.

09:30 – can’t possibly start writing. Too much other stuff to do that cant’ possibly wait. Maybe you should vacuum, but then you’d wake The Dog. Then you’d have to walk The Dog. After careful deliberation, you get the broom out and start sweeping up the mess from last night’s dinner.

10:00 – you call your agent. She doesn’t pick up. Ever.

10:30 – you go to the office/children’s playroom/laundry room and pull out your ancient, wheezing laptop. You start the day’s writing after deleting most of what you wrote yesterday.

10:35 – you check your kindle ebook sales.

10:47 – you check your kindle ebook sales. Again.

11:15 – you wonder whether the Amazon KDP sales reporting systems have gone down.

11:30 – you check your kindle ebook sales.

12:30 – after cranking out 72 words in 90 minutes, you give up and get some lunch. There’s probably a potato in the fridge somewhere that needs eating…

13:00 – following a delicious baked potato, you head back to your desk to check your kindle ebook sales.

13:15 – inspiration not quite so forthcoming as you had hoped, you log onto your Facebook and Twitter accounts and spend the next hour looking for ideas to make your latest book not suck.

14:15 – you check your kindle ebook sales.

14:16 – giving up, you decide to spend the rest of the day complaining about your lack of sales on the Kindle forums, while sending out a few “buy my book” tweets to your Grandma.

18:00 – the house now a tip once again, you get pizza for dinner, because, hey – who needs the hassle of cooking with all this writing you need to do, huh?

22:30 – after a few hours trying to get The Children to calm down and go to sleep, you and The Spouse manage half an hour of “The Big Bang Theory” before exhaustion takes over and you both crawl into bed.

So, to all you readers out there: does this meet your preconceptions? Are we all naught but mortal men? To you other authors: where on the scale do you fit?

Leave your comments below, as usual folks!

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