I’m thrilled to welcome Lauren K. Denton as today’s guest on A Writer’s Life! I loved her last book, Hurricane Season, so I’m looking forward to her next release, Glory Road, coming up on March 19th. I think you’ll enjoy this peek into her writer’s day. It’s not so far off from my own routine, minus the hair bows… in my case, it’s die-cast cars and Legos!
Plus, don’t forget to read to the bottom and enter the giveaway to win a paperback copy of Glory Road!
A Day in the Life of Lauren K. Denton
When people ask me how I have time to write books, my answer is the same—I don’t have time. I have to make the time.
In the past handful of years, my writing routine has varied a great deal, but one thing has remained the same—I have to fit writing into the margins of my life, into space that was formerly occupied by either sleep or some other responsibility.
When I first started writing fiction seriously, I had an almost-two-year-old and I wrote during her afternoon naps. After I had my second child, I began waking up at 4:45 so I could take advantage of those two precious hours before the kids woke up. It became apparent that, with fluctuating naptimes, the 5-7am shift was the only time I was guaranteed to not be interrupted.
As I waded through those preschool years, the fall of 2017 hovered in my mind like some shimmering, golden thing—the year my youngest would start kindergarten. I both anticipated and dreaded it. When it finally happened, I mourned her moving into “big school” but at the same time, I saw my writing time opening up: seven glorious, unfettered hours to brainstorm, research, write, and edit.
Of course, it wasn’t quite as glorious as I imagined. It’s amazing how fast those seven hours fly by, especially when you try to fit in other things like exercise, grocery shopping (the family still has to eat after all, even when you’re on deadline), and house cleaning in some form or fashion.
These days, I consider it a good day if I can get two to three hours of solid writing in, though it doesn’t always work out the way I plan.
Regardless of writing schedules and looming deadlines, life goes on with all its myriad demands on our time.
Here’s a peek at my writing day…
8:00am—Return home after dropping the girls off at school. Refill coffee cup, make breakfast, and eat while working through a friend’s edits of the early chapters of the book I’m currently writing. (While I pretty much have to be sitting in front of my computer with white noise on to do the creative parts of writing, I can do non-creative things like editing and brainstorming while I’m doing other things.)
9:00—Make my way upstairs to my office (which is really our guest bedroom) to begin my work for the day. I often end my writing sessions by writing out a super quick sketch of the next scene, so when I sit down to write, I have a starting point. It’s much easier to sink back into the story if I know what I’m working on next. Today I do have that starting point, thankfully, so I get to work.
11:30—Finish chapter. Mind you, this is the first draft, so it’s not by any means perfect, but it’s on paper (or Word doc), at least. Move on to extra work for the day—writing an essay due to my publicist, answering emails, and some back and forth with my agent about my next contract.
Noon—break for lunch, then laundry, unload the dishwasher, and make a dash through the house picking up stray shoes, stuffed animals, and hair bows.
1:30pm—Back to reading through my friend’s edits on early chapters. It’s such a relief to know when I go back and do a read-through of my manuscript after I finish writing it, I will have already dealt with the nitpicky things that can slow down the editing process.
2:00—Go for a walk outside. This serves three purposes: 1. Exercise, obviously. 2. Iron out plot wrinkles and fix holes. I always have my phone with me so I can jot down ideas that come to me while I’m walking—either figuring out what’s wrong with the chapter I worked on today or coming up with a plan for the chapter I’ll be writing tomorrow. 3. It helps me peel the Writer hat off my head and replace it with the Mom hat before I pick up my kids from school.
3:00—Writing day is over. It’s not that I don’t want my girls to see me working—in fact, I think it’s good for them to see Mom working hard at something that doesn’t involve them—but I want them to know that in the few hours I have to spend with them during the day, I’m not distracted by the fictional people in my head!
If you’ve figured out another way to make the life-writing balance work, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
Lauren K. Denton is the author of USA Today bestselling novels The Hideaway and Hurricane Season. Glory Road releases March 19th. She was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, and now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. Though her husband tries valiantly to turn her into a mountain girl, she’d still rather be at the beach with a stack of books.