A Day in the Life of a Writer

What I’m always most curious about, when reading about other writers and their habits, is what their typical day looks like. Forget about where their inspiration comes from. How they develop characters. Whether they draw up an outline ahead of time or have the story evolve as they write.

No, what I most want to know is what exactly they do, say, from 8:30 to 10:30 in the morning. And how often they go onto Facebook. Or check their blog stats. Or secretly re-watch the last three episodes of Downton Abbey.

If I can replicate the routine of a successful author, maybe I can replicate their success too?

So here I give you a Day in the Life of a Writer:

I’m sitting at my computer. It’s evening. I reflect back on my day…

I had a great start. As every day, I got up at 7:00 am. Took a shower, blow-dried my hair, went downstairs to make a cup of Earl Grey tea, and dug into a croissant and the New York Times opinion page with equal gusto.

Having caught up on the day’s news, by 8:30 am sharp I settled down into my swivel chair and scanned the agenda on my desk. Sent out two quick emails to potential clients requesting advertising quotes. Answered a few comments on my blog, made sure my latest entries were posted to Facebook and Twitter, and then I started typing. I worked for four solid hours, getting two chapters completed for my upcoming memoir. I took a one-hour lunch break, working out with my jump rope and doing pushups, then spooning up leftover Thai food from last night while getting some reading done for pure entertainment. Then back to my desk for another three solid hours of…


I jerk up with a start. My forehead hurts and I can feel a bump where it hit the keyboard. Dang, I don’t have time to fall asleep! I still need to finish this entry for a writing contest due tomorrow, and I have nothing to show for, because my day has been a disaster. I look at the clock. 1:15 am. I sigh, and start typing again.

I probably didn’t have you fooled for one second with that daydream (or nighttime dream, if you want to be a stickler). You should have gotten the hint at “blow-dried my hair” – I think the last time I did that was 1995. And “agenda on my desk” – ha! My “agenda” is a collection of pink and blue sticky notes plastered all around my computer in no organized fashion whatsoever, mixed in with back-0f-the-envelope reminders to “call dentist” and “get roof fixed.”

The start of my day, more often than not, is a whirlwind of activity revolving around fixing the printer so that what should have been yesterday’s homework can be printed out in the nick of time for school, preparing four different lunches with four different types of sandwiches and fruits, making sure they are not mixed up with each other (“Mom, you know I HATE peanut butter”), quick-drying somebody’s shirt from yesterday’s laundry which I forgot to transfer to the dryer, wiping the kitchen floor because my every step makes a popping sound where my shoe sticks to splashes of orange juice someone forgot to clean up, jotting down a makeshift grocery list because we seem to be out of pretty much everything I stocked up on just three days ago, and squeezing myself up the ladder into the attic to investigate faint dripping noises that I hope are not connected to the wet spot that has formed on the kitchen ceiling after last nights’ rain.

Earl Grey and The New York Times don’t often make an appearance during my morning.

And that’s why, when everybody has finally left the house, I have no energy left to do any writing. Especially since there are 45 new emails in my inbox which need, if not answering, at least some sort of culling to make room for the next ones after that.

I’m now off to watch Downton Abbey. How about you?


  1. You actually did get me, good. For the first half of this post I was really hating you. Then I was so relieved when I learned the truth.

    My “writing” day is very similar to yours, especially the not-blowing-my-hair-dry part. Except I don’t have any kids’ lunches to make, I don’t have to clean, and I don’t have to investigate leaks in the attic. Hmm.

    I do have one rule that I’m particularly proud of: I don’t allow myself to eat lunch until I have showered AND gotten dressed. One one meal per day in pyjamas/workout clothes. I am so disciplined.

    • You are! that is a great rule. My rule is to try to get out of my workout clothes eventually during the course of the day. I made it after I once ran into a woman from the morning boot camp at a dinner that night, and I was still in the same clothes while she was all gussied up. Oops!

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