Zen Cho writes an exclusive piece for Female First
Zen Cho writes an exclusive piece for Female First

I love reading "day in the life" pieces. It's amazing how many people in the world eat yoghurt for breakfast and train for marathons in their lunch hour. I'm fairly lazy for an ambitious person, so though I have two often demanding jobs, I try to build in lots of time for joyful purposelessness.

I went part-time at my day job as a corporate lawyer when I got my book deal. On my law job days, I wake up reluctantly at 8am and eventually extract myself from bed around 8.30am, rolling into the office for 9.30am. Breakfast is porridge with a banana sliced into it or peanut butter on toast plus an easy peel orange. (I'm not sure why anyone bothers with normal oranges when clementines exist.)

My day job can be stressful but it's absorbing. I field emails, attend meetings, talk to clients and colleagues, draft advice and supervise juniors. I usually have lunch at my desk while checking social media, catching up with the news or reading a book.

I never get off work before 6 pm at earliest. More usually it's 7pm; sometimes it's much later. Being a lawyer means you're in a service industry and clients' demands sometimes override sociable working hours.

My partner may have cooked dinner. If not, there's generally a microwaveable meal or leftovers from the weekend. Like all Malaysians I'm obsessed with food and I miss the cuisines I grew up with, so I try to cook East and Southeast Asian meals when I can.

After dinner I try to do some words and generally succeed, though I often go to bed closer to 1 am than 12 midnight. Even if I've worked a late night at the office, I try to write a sentence or so, just to feel I'm making progress.

On my writing days I rise later, take my time over breakfast and may get to my desk at around 10 am. All the advice says to do your writing first thing, before you get waylaid by emails and the like. I am sure it is correct but I do invariably get distracted by emails, social media, life admin, that book I'm reading that I'm really into. I also frequently have to do some work for my day job. Sometimes I don't get to writing till the afternoon. This feels unspeakably slothful but I try not to let guilt push me off-course.

I generally have a word count goal for the day, usually around 1,000 words. I'm often still writing by the time dinner comes around and I may keep writing up to bedtime so I can hit my word count goal. If I've left myself much evening to play with, I'll read or mess around on the Internet. I've found the secret to maintaining a writing practice in the face of all the distractions life presents is to be consistent and have forgiveness for oneself.

Zen Cho's new novel The True Queen (Tor UK) is available now.


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