Some days, being a best-selling author lives up to the excitement such a lofty job title would suggest. For instance, there was last year’s Thrillerfest awards gala in New York City, where my first book, FINAL GIRLS, was prominently displayed on every table and where I was introduced to Lee Child, Lisa Gardner, Kathy Reichs and Shari Lapena in a dizzying five-minute span.
Most days, however, it’s a lot more mundane. A vicious circle of words, procrastination, more words, laundry, more procrastination, still more words.
When I was asked to write about an average day in my life, I was very tempted to cover only the exciting bits. But that would be dishonest. And even though my next book is called LAST TIME I LIED, I chose to focus on truth rather than fiction.
So, without further ado or embellishment, here is an average day in the life of Riley Sager.
8 a.m. — I’m awake! First order of business: Coffee.
9 a.m. — After breakfast, it’s time to exercise. When I’m writing a book, it’s easy to let myself go. Especially in the winter, when I avoid leaving the house as much as I can. But spring has at last arrived, so it’s time to start working out again. Because it’s been a while, I start slowly—a leisurely 2.5-mile walk during which I listen to a podcast about movies. Today’s topic: Avengers: Infinity War.
10:30 a.m. — I usually spend my mornings catching up on correspondence or doing non-writing work essential to my job. Today, that involves approving the front and back covers of the U.S. edition of LAST TIME I LIED. I always love this part, because it means the book is indeed a reality and not some weird fever dream I might wake from at any moment.
11:30 a.m. — A special treat—a video chat with a group of high school students taking a creative writing class. They ask me some fantastic questions about the writing process, my road to publication and ways they can improve their writing. It’s great to see young people so excited about reading and writing.
1 p.m. — Lunch. Again, I’m trying to stay healthy, so today’s lunch is a homemade smoothie with blueberries, pineapple, kale and yogurt. It’s more delicious than it sounds. Honest!
1:30 p.m. — Time to get some writing done. Although I have a home office and desktop computer, I prefer to write on my laptop in the book nook on the second floor of my townhouse. It’s got a sofa, an easy chair and four shelves stuffed with books. Perfect to get me in the writing mood. Most days, I try to write all afternoon. Today is slightly different because there’s a structural problem with my current work in progress that’s been bugging me for weeks. I’ve tried to write around it as best I could, but now there’s no avoiding it. I need to come up with a solution. Today.
3 p.m. — More coffee. More thinking. No solution. Yet.
3:30 p.m. — Social media break! I enjoy social media, especially Twitter and Instagram because they let me interact with readers from all over the world. But I also try not to let it become too much of a distraction. Today, it’s a few tweets and an Instagram photo of my current obsession—vintage paperbacks from the seventies.
4:30 p.m. — More coffee. More thinking. And I’ve solved the structural problem that’s been the bane of my existence! Unlike previous ideas I’ve come up with and abandoned, I think this one’s going to stick.
6 p.m. — Time to start dinner. I love to cook, and I’m pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Tonight, I’m making shakshuka, a Northern African dish of eggs baked in a sauce of onions, peppers, tomatoes and spices. I top it off with chopped parsley, feta cheese and serve with naan bread on the side. Delicious.
7 p.m. — TV time. Although being a writer isn’t physically stressful, it can definitely be mentally taxing. So I always like to spend a few hours each night turning off my brain. Even so, I can’t resist grabbing my iPad to catch up emails and social media.
9:30 p.m. — Back to writing, this time curled up in bed with my laptop.
Midnight — As much as I try to write in the afternoon, it sometimes takes the cover of darkness to really get the words flowing. Tonight, they flow beautifully. I’m very pleased with the day’s work, which doesn’t always happen. So it’s lights out and a sense of accomplishment for a day well spent.