I’m just getting into the swing of a whole new blog schedule (okay, it’s the first time I’ve really blogged in a couple of years, so it’s way overdue) and Monday’s are going to be focused on the writing life. To kick off this column, on the first Monday of each month I’ll be featuring a different writer and an inside look at how she structures her day. And since I just decided the order of topics, like, at 2pm yesterday, I get to go first!
Name: Carla Laureano
Website: (do I really need to type it?)
Genre: Contemporary inspirational romance
Number of Books Published: 6
I’m one of those writers who needs a regular routine, but that routine seems to change pretty frequently. Part of it has to do with seasonality: when my sons are in school during the year, I work exclusively during the day. When they’re off for the summer, I try to take as much time off as I can, working while they’re at their grandparents or with friends or in the evenings after bedtime. Also, around November, my basement office turns freezing and I start finding excuses to work at the dining room table, in front of the fireplace or at my favorite coffee shop. (Also, it’s close to the refrigerator and snack drawer. Don’t judge me.)
But, let’s assume we’re talking about the school year (like right now). This is kind of what my day looks like, when I’m writing but not yet in the throes of publicity for a book release.
6:00 am – Alarm goes off. I turn it off with best intentions of getting up immediately. Husband wakes me up as he leaves for work twenty minutes later (He’s my secondary alarm clock.)
6:20 am – Blearily reach for my phone and scroll through notifications until I’m awake enough to actually read anything.
6:29 am – Get mad at something I saw on Facebook and swear I’m not going to check social media in the morning anymore. Reach for my Bible instead.
6:55 am – Realize that I’m still reading, haven’t gotten dressed, and children are still in bed. Rush to pull on jeans and a clean sweater, put my hair back in a clip, brush my teeth as fast as humanly possible. (I do make my bed every morning. Yay, me!)
7:10 am – Wake kids up late. Oops. General madness to get out of the house and to school ensues. Get back sometime thereafter depending on traffic, errands, and how badly I needed a latte on the way home (answer: usually pretty badly.)
8:30 am (ish) – Make myself breakfast and a cup of tea, sit down at the kitchen table with my planner and outline what I need to do today.
8:45 am – Go down to my office and get started on actual work (read: mess around on Facebook for twenty-five minutes).
9:10 am – Feel guilty that I’ve already frittered away part of my morning, open my manuscript. Read what I wrote yesterday. My critique varies from “you’re an absolute genius” to “don’t quit your day job, kid.” More often the latter. Wait. This is my day job. I might be in trouble. Is it too late to become a flight attendant?
9:17 am – Go reheat my tea. I can’t work without hot tea, can I? Let’s be serious.
9:20 am – Get down to work for real this time. Finally get into the swing of things and type away in half-hour bursts, occasionally fielding text messages from husband and friends. Vow to turn off notifications but don’t, because it gives me a break from thinking how today’s writing actually might be worse than yesterday’s.
12:53 pm – Look at the clock in bleary-eyed shock and realize I’ve actually gotten my word-count done for today. Somehow. It’s a genuine miracle! Shut down file without rereading it. LUNCH!
1:00 pm – Sit down with leftovers or quick sandwich and watch an episode of Property Brothers or House Hunters, all the while mentally criticizing homeowner’s ridiculous expectations. Browse Realtor.com on my phone for no good reason whatsoever. (Oooh, look! A house with a main floor office and two acres! Only $300k out of our price range!) Send listing to my husband, also for no good reason, because we both know we’re not moving anytime soon, especially not to a house that’s $300k out of our price range.
1:30 pm – Scroll through my feed reader, saving interesting articles to share later. Check social media. Respond to emails that came through while I was actually working. Read husband’s text reply, which somehow manages to convey maniacal laughter over my real estate dreams in a series of emojis. (His emoji game is strong.)
3:00 pm – Knock off work for the day, knowing I may have to sneak down later while kids are in the shower to answer more emails, type a few more lines in the last chapter, or plot out the next day’s scenes.
9:00 pm – Collapse on the sofa, with all family things completed and kids in bed. Read a book for fun (more likely for endorsement or research.) Make notes in my planner for tomorrow. Watch one episode of our current TV show obsession, drink another cup of tea with my hubby, nibble on whatever baked goods I’ve made this week.
11:30 pm – Drag myself up to bed an hour later than planned. Vow to go to bed earlier tomorrow…
The fact is, I can usually get my daily writing quota done in about three hours a day, and that will give me a first draft in about ten weeks. When I’m promoting a book, however, my day is far longer. Word count gets done first, then publicity and marketing tasks. I’m often sitting on the couch with a laptop in the evening, writing guest blogs or doing interviews, rather than watching TV or reading a book. Which makes me appreciate these relatively calm days even more.
The one thing I’ve tried to do is keep work from encroaching on the time my kids are home in the afternoon. They feel like they’re getting attention, I feel like I’m not neglecting them, and we end up with food on the table, homework completed, and clean clothes in the drawer (usually). And unless there’s an emergency or I’ve got a deadline in the following two weeks, I don’t work weekends. I learned early on that I needed that time to have a “real life”, to rest and recharge, in order to have anything worthwhile to say when I sat down at my computer on Monday. And it’s made all the difference.
Do you relate to my schedule at all? Are you a routine-bound writer or do you go with the flow? Tell me in the comments below.