My typical writing day usually depends on where I am in the publishing cycle. When I first start working on a book, I tend to be a bit more – relaxed, let’s say. And by that I obviously mean lazy.
I wake up at half past six, but I’m generally not at my desk until eight. I’d like to say this is because I’m doing an hour of yoga or going for a five mile run, but usually it’s because I’m drinking tea and listening to Chris Evans on Radio 2 (I used to listen to Radio 4 but then I’d end up too depressed to get up at all).
Morning is my best time to work, but I’m still pretty easily distracted. I can be lured away from my desk by the promise of shopping or a coffee with friends. And when I am at my desk, a lot of the time I’m faffing about. I look stuff up on the internet – for research purposes, obviously. This inevitably leads to looking up more stuff, then checking Facebook and Twitter. Before you know it, I’m shopping for boots, or getting involved in a spat over Strictly, or watching a YouTube tutorial on how to contour my cheekbones.
Sometime around mid morning, I have a tea break. I say tea break, but I have to say I’m pretty much drinking tea constantly while I’m at my desk. I get very twitchy if I have an empty cup next to me – or worse still, no cup at all. While waiting for the kettle to boil, I’ll often find something else to occupy my time and stop me going back to my desk. It’s a lucky thing I can’t stand daytime TV (why is it all shows about antiques and buying houses?) otherwise I probably wouldn’t get a thing done.
Finally, I get back to work. And with lunchtime looming, I really try to concentrate. I used to have an office that looked over a brick wall, but now I can see into the street, I take an avid interest in the comings and goings of the neighbourhood cats.
As the day wears on, my concentration tends to wear off even more, if that’s humanly possible. This is when I try to do the non-writing stuff, like sorting out admin or accounts, or reading proofs. Or I go shopping. If I’m truly desperate, I might even go to the gym.
But all that changes when I approach a deadline. Then I turn into a mad machine. I’m at my desk by six am, and I regularly work 20 hour days. I’ve even been known to turn out 10,000 words a day when the clock’s really ticking. I think it’s a hark back to my days as a journalist – I need the pressure of an approaching deadline to get the creative buzz going. But it’s no fun, and every time I tell myself that next time I’ll be more disciplined.
Until the next time, that is. Well, someone’s got to keep an eye on those cats…
The Nightingale Christmas Show by Donna Douglas is published by Arrow on 16th November 2017, priced £6.99