The great thing about being an author is that you can fit the work around your life. I was a journalist on regional newspapers for ten years and then a freelance journalist before I became an author, so I am used to deadlines. The difference compared to newspapers, is that your deadline may be six to nine months down the line, rather than in an hour’s time. That’s good in terms of being able to be more flexible (it’s worked well for parenting), but you’ve still got to be disciplined about work, because the deadline six months away, very soon becomes six weeks away!

One Moment

One Moment

I have a writing room (the spare bedroom in our house which looks out over our garden), and I’m generally in there for 9am. I check my emails and social media before getting down to work and then try to get a good three hours of writing in before lunchtime. After lunch, I try to get a couple more hours in, but I will sometimes go for a walk or go to a yoga class. One of the things I’ve learnt about being an author is there is no such thing as being off-duty and very often the best ideas or a plot breakthrough come when I’m out for a walk, so it’s important not to feel guilty about taking a break from the screen and I often come back refreshed and far more productive than if I’d been in front of my computer all day.

I’ve also learnt to write pretty much anywhere. My teenage son is a budding actor and often in rehearsals or drama workshops, so it’s very much a case of ‘have laptop, will travel’, and I spend a lot of time writing on trains and cafes near theatres, which is quite productive. I think the change of scenery does me good!

I don’t set myself a daily word count, more of a monthly one. What’s important to me is getting the words right, and I would rather spend a day getting the dialogue in a crucial scene right, than rush it because I have more words to do to meet my deadline.

I’m very must a plotter and planner, so before I write a word of the first chapter I work on characterization and plot. The first few chapters often take the longest and I speed up as I progress through a novel. So, while I may only write 10 or 15,000 words in the first month, I have been known to write 35-40,000 in the final month.

If I am nearing the deadline for delivering a manuscript, it all gets very intense and I will spend hours at my computer and just emerge for food and sleep! My family know the routine well enough now not to disturb me when I’m in the last few weeks of a book. And at that time, I often write late into the night too. It’s a good time to write with no distractions and several of my books have been finished at 2am!

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