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This Writing Life: My Daily Schedule (and what I REALLY end up doing)

4 May, 2011

I few months ago, I saw something of a meme going round a few writerly blogs, in which the posters went through everything they did in a day and how long it took. I started thinking about my own schedule and how many hours I set aside for writing… only to realise that what I plan to do and what I really do are completely different. To start with, here’s my usual plan:

8am. Get up. Have breakfast. Give rats their morning run and food.

9am. Sit down at my desk. Spend a while blogging, checking emails, etc.

9.30am. Start on my editing, with the aim of getting two or three scenes done in a morning (or, if I’m writing, to perhaps write 1500 words).

11.30am. Exercise. Shower. Lunch and catching up with TV/podcasts.

1pm. Back to work, probably on short stories, research or more editing.

3pm. Finish writing work for the day. Spend some time on housework/gardening/reading/gaming until it’s time to cook, get changed and go to my ‘day job’ at 7pm.

Sounds very orderly, doesn’t it? Four hours of work, plenty of time to relax in the afternoon and I even fitted in my daily exercise. If I actually accomplished all this – and I do, sometimes – I’d be feeling exceedingly virtuous. Problem is… my days usually look a lot more like this:

9am. Struggle out of bed.

9.05am. Make it to kitchen, proceed to tidy up last night’s mess enough that I can get to the microwave or kettle.

9.15am. Attempt to wheedle rats out of their cage with delicious treats.

9.16am. Rats have stolen their treats (they’re quicker than I am) and retreated far enough from the cage door that I can’t reach them.

9.20am. Temporarily give up on rats. Go into garden to water vegetables. Put breadmaker on. Put washing machine on. Start making breakfast.

9.30am. Return to find rats have finally left their cage, and are happily munching their way through the nearby bag of peanuts. At least they’re out.

9.35am. Sit down with breakfast, which rats promptly attempt to steal.

10am. Rats back in their cage. Breakfast finished. Up to the office with a cup of coffee.

10.05am. Look at email. And Facebook. And Twitter. And… you get the idea.

10.30am. Coffee drunk, I finally sit down to work on the editing.

11.30am. Have edited two scenes, which only took an hour in the end. And I got up halfway through to hang the laundry out and make a cup of tea.

11.35am. Decide to reward myself for all my hard work with half an hour of whatever MMORPG I’m playing at the time.

12am. Decide to skip exercise. Have shower. Make lunch. Go back to MMO.

1.15pm. Think I should probably go back to work.

1.30pm. Actually get to that work I think I should be doing. Probably writing yet another short story, so I can put off editing all the finished ones.

2.15pm. Brother knocks on office door to ask if I want a cup of tea. I say yes.

2.20pm. Decide to drink tea in the garden because it’s such a nice day.

2.45pm. Go back to work.

3pm. Realise I’ve lost my train of throught and might as well give up for the day.

3.05pm. Housework (how does the kitchen get into such a mess in just one day?). Baking.

3.45pm. Return to MMO. I’ve finished work for the day, remember?

4.30pm. Have sudden fit of guilt at how little I’ve done today and turn off computer to spend half an hour frantically scribbling by hand.

5pm. All writers need to read, so open a book for a while.

5.30pm. Realise I should have start cooking fifteen minutes ago. Hurry off to kitchen.

6pm. Eat.

6.30pm. Am somehow back in front of the computer. Didn’t I turn it off? Oh well.

7.00pm. And now it really does have to go off, because I have to get changed for work.

So, there’s my rather more detailed (and realistic) working day. In truth, I tend to land somewhere between the two. I frequently do manage my four hours of work time, but often the exercise, reading and whatever else get lost along the way (although I usually do manage to fit an hour of gaming in there somewhere…)

How do your days go? Do you have more self-discipline than me… or are you just as hopeless?

  1. Brett James Irvine permalink
    5 May, 2011 6:19 am

    Working full time during the day, my writing schedule is confined mostly to early mornings, evenings and weekends. My schedule would like like so:

    6am: wake up to write
    8am – 6pm: work
    7pm: write some more
    9pm: study
    11pm: pass out

    It usually ends up with me entirely skipping my morning write, and only cramming in an hour in the evening, occasionally filling in by writing during my lunch break.

    At least we are writing…right?

    • 5 May, 2011 9:14 am

      Absolutely! The writing is the important part!

      I like how you end your day with ‘pass out’. I suspect a lot of writers feel like that at the end of the day. I certainly do!

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