My desk faces the garden, and occasionally the squirrels that live nearby will try and distract me (they’ve even played with my son’s football). I’m too easily distracted though, so I have to close the blinds, turn off the radio and the television.
My day starts with rushing about getting my son ready for school. When home, I potter about and procrastinate for as long as possible before opening the laptop. I plan a few chapters ahead, so I always know what I’m about to write; this helps avoid staring at a blank screen. I’m not one of these writers who stops mid-sentence, though, as I’d forget what the other half was meant to be. This is the same with ideas – I have to write them down (usually in the ‘notes’ app on my phone). I used to come up with ‘great’ ideas – so good, I thought, I’ll never forget them. But, you’ve guessed it: they totally removed themselves from my memory just hours, or even minutes, after.
My second novel, 11 Missed Calls, was inspired by an article I read a few years ago in which a mother had been missing for over twenty years, leaving behind her husband and children. A private investigator took it upon himself to research the case, and found the missing woman living in another town, leading a new life. She didn’t want any contact with her family. I tend to get most of my ideas for a starting point from newspaper articles.
I find the first chapter always the hardest to write – it has to get a reader hooked but deliver enough information without too much flowery description that will bore a reader. Inevitably, this chapter will have the most re-writes, especially after I’ve finished the whole thing. Sometimes I’ll get to a point in the book where I have no idea where it’s going to go – even though I know the ending. This is when I’ll brainstorm ideas, either on my lovely new white board, or with my writing friends (who enjoy distraction as much as I do).
I write for about thirty minutes at a time, with ten-minute breaks, when I’ll check emails and social media. I try to remember to turn the sound off my phone, otherwise it’s pinging all the time and I don’t need any excuses to have another break. After lunch though, I usually get cabin fever, so go for a walk with an audio book.
Any writing routine goes to pot, however, when it’s the school holidays, and I write in the evenings, even if I don’t really feel like it. It took me nearly two years to write my first manuscript (that will never be read) and looking back, that was such a luxury. But I love writing and I feel very lucky that my books have been published. It really is a dream come true, and I still have to pinch myself sometimes.