Someone recently asked me what a regular writing day looked like for me. So…here you go (or at least the highlights):
- Get up & eat breakfast, during which I read email and Twitter. I usually don’t answer any email immediately unless it can be done in less than 3 lines. Also I do the NY Times mini-crossword puzzle and review my to-do list.(NOTE: I keep a daily to-do list in a straight-up text file. The file contains stuff for at least a week in advance. I also use my iPad’s calendar program to keep track of dates, but I copy any appointments from the calendar into the text to-do list. The to-do list is inspired by bullet journals but more informal.)
- Write a few morning pages longhand, mostly reviewing things I saw or heard the previous day. I try to record tangible experiences, rather than just chatting about ideas.
- Transcribe any longhand writing from the day before. Basically, when I’m writing something new, I write longhand first (yes, pen on paper). The next day, I start my writing session by transcribing the longhand stuff into Scrivener. This helps remind me where I was, and also gives me a chance to do quickie rewrites on what I produced the previous day.
- Use the Pomodoro technique to write longhand for two hours. That means 25 minutes of nothing but writing, then five minutes of break-time (bathroom, having a snack, etc.). Repeat the 25-on/5-off for a total of four sessions, giving about two hours of new writing.
- Take a longer break: half an hour. I’ll do my daily Duolingo (currently learning Japanese, and keeping up on Spanish) and have a small lunch
- Back to another four Pomodoro sessions: either writing or editing (if I have an editing job…and by the way, if you ever need editing services, feel free to inquire).
- Another longer break. Usually, this is when I go for a walk to my local library. I almost always have something I want to pick up at the library, or something I have to take back. Even if I don’t have anything to get or return, going to the library is a nice break.
- Back for another two hours of work. This is either editing work, or business stuff. Here is when I answer email, deal with business paperwork, etc. If I’m working on a definite project (e.g. editing), I’ll do it Pomodoro style again, but often it’s just little bits and pieces that don’t fit the work-in-depth system.
- Thus ends my writing/editing day. Now into other stuff. Half an hour for hobby-like activity.
- Walk or drive for errands (shopping, etc.) in the late afternoon.
- Most nights, I either do kung fu or role-playing games.
- Read for at least 15 minutes before going to bed.
For bathroom reading, I (very slowly) work through something “classic”. Recently, I worked my way through Christopher Logue’s poetry version of the Iliad. Now I’m working through Ishmael Reed’s “Mumbo Jumbo”.
For kitchen reading (when I’m eating snacks or drinking coffee), I do idle research. In preparation for writing Miranda in NOBODY TOLD ME YOU COULD BREAK THE MOON, I worked through a first-year physics textbook. Now, I’m reading BLACK EDGE by Sheelah Kolhatkar, so I’ll know about sleazy financiers. (This is preparation for something secret I think I’ll call Project 3H.)
And for times when I want a break from reading, I do cryptic crossword puzzles. Right now I’m working through a book of New Statesman crosswords from the 1980s.
So there: if there is such a thing as a typical day, that’s how it goes. Any questions?