A Day in the Life of an Aspiring Writer

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It’s probably a good thing that I’m an insomniac or my dream of becoming a (real) writer might just kill me. Just for kicks, I decided to keep a log of what a typical day is like for me as I juggle a full-time teaching job and a rather chatty muse.

5:10 a.m.
Wake up (providing I went to sleep in the first place).

5:11 a.m.
Move the notebooks out of the way so I don’t trip on them when I get out of bed.

5:15 a.m.
Finish reading through what I call my Midnight Notes. Then, I’ll pat myself on the back for coming up with the ideas that are worth exploring and scratch my head for the ones where I wonder what the heck I was thinking.

5:20 – 5:45 a.m.
While I’m getting dressed and combing my hair, my muse and I discuss character and story developments.  We will probably disagree instantly and this will be the first of many arguments during the day.

6:05 a.m.
Start walking to work (Yes, I walk even though I have a car and a valid driver’s license. Really.) and listen to one of many story playlists. Usually, I pick a song that relates to a plot point or character quirk I’m trying to figure out.

6:30 a.m.
Pour my morning cup of coffee and get online to make sure any scheduled blog posts have gone through.  Add necessary links to Facebook page. Answer comments, e-mails, and jot down any ideas that arose during the walk to work.

6:45 – 7:30 a.m.
Start actual day job work.

8:23 – 8:30 a.m.
Check blog stats, answer comments.  Add story ideas to notebook.

9:23 – 9:30 a.m.
Check blog stats, answer comments.  Add story ideas to notebook.

*Note: These seven minute intervals are the passing periods between the classes I teach and they will appear a few more times.

9:35 – 10:23 a.m.
Prep hour filled with grading papers, copying, and preparing for the second phase of the day.  In between tasks I check stats, answer comments, check e-mail, and add story ideas to notebook.  On days where my to-do list is clear, I will read blog subscriptions or research publishing outlets.

11:30 – 12:00 p.m.
While eating lunch, I read through subscription blogs and comment.

12:00 – 12:07 p.m.
Check stats, answer comments.

1:00 – 1:07 p.m.
Talk to the student that always arrives to class super early.

2:00 p.m.
Assess real job to-do list and stay until it gets done so I can focus solely on writing when I get home.

3:00ish – 5:00ish p.m.
Repeat morning walk routine in reverse.  My muse and I will continue our morning argument as if the span of eight hours never happened.

Write down any ideas that arose from the walk home.

Grab an afternoon snack and power nap, complete daily crossword, and watch Judge Judy (it’s a guilty pleasure and there are always really great characters)

Spend time with my husband.

6:00 p.m.
Wrap up online tasks (check stats, answer comments, read subscription blogs, update Twitter and Facebook, if needed).

6:30 p.m.
Choose writing project based on the day’s inspiration (i.e. playlist, musings, idea notebook).

Write.

On days where my muse and I can’t communicate, I’ll use my allotted writing time to research literary magazines where I can submit my work, comb through agent listings, and research query letter/synopsis formats.

7:15ish p.m.
Briefly debate cleaning up my writing desk.  Within minutes I will realize it’s just a procrastination attack.

8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Break for dinner.

10:30 p.m.
Rub temples to soothe wordsmithing cramps.

Take a shower and discuss course of story with muse.  More arguments will ensue.

11:00 p.m.
Jot down any shower ideas and call it a day.

11:10 – 11:30ish p.m.
Read

11:30ish p.m. and beyond
Try really hard to sleep.

This is my basic day, but there are slight variations on different days of the week.

Tuesdays are basically the same except from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. I attend a writer’s group and from 4:30 p.m. until around 7:00 p.m. I write with my mother.

Thursday is appointment TV night and craft night, but lately I’ve been writing at 9:00 p.m. for at least an hour.

Friday night I head to the bookstore at around 6:30 p.m. and read for an hour before heading out to visit with family. At around 10:00 p.m. to midnight I’ll sit down to read or write, depending on my mood.

Weekends are an entirely different story.  Saturday I clean the house and start the laundry before I head to the bookstore to write for a three to five hour block.  On Sundays, I spend the morning finishing up any leftover chores before heading to the bookstore to write for another three or four hours, or until I have to head home for Sunday dinner with the in-laws.  Sunday evenings are typically kept open to relax, unless my muse says otherwise.

It’s amazing I’m still sane, (sort of). Thank goodness for little pearls of wisdom like this:


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c.b. 2012

Too Much Information

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The good thing about living the Age of Information is there’s a lot of information readily available. The bad thing is there’s a lot of information readily available. I find myself wedged between my thirst for knowledge relating to writing/publishing on one side and the overwhelming sense that my brain is about to explode on the other.  In the last week alone, I bought three writing magazines filled with helpful articles covering writing tips, reference sources for agents, publication listings, websites, submission checklists, and advice from bestselling novelists. I’m soaking it all up like a dry shammy, but I’m fairly certain all the pieces of information I highlighted in purple are going to get lost in the shuffle.

Information Overload!

I always feel like I’m on a steep learning curve because I haven’t been published (beyond a little blip in the local newspaper) and I think a lot of other unpublished writers feel the same way.  We are constantly researching the industry and trying to figure out how it all works – knowledge is power, right? However, I can’t help but question how much is too much.  There are a million books out there with a tried-and-true methods of writing a novel, magazines that come out every month with loads of do’s and don’ts, and websites that teach everything from writing query letters to crafting the perfect sentence.  When do we stop listening to what everyone else says and start relying on our own instincts?  I’m torn between wanting to follow the rules in order to be a publisher pleaser and wanting to break every single rule in the name of creativity.

Agents are looking for fresh voices and strong writing that stands out above the rest, but there is also a strict code of rules when it comes to the format of query letters, synopses, and manuscripts. The most frustrating part of it all is that some of these rules are infuriatingly vague. Each agent is looking for something different, but they all speak the same secret language.  Now, I say this as an outsider looking in and perhaps this reflects my naïveté concerning the whole process.  There’s also the fact that I’ve been staring at a blank page for months every time I sit down to write a synopsis. Even after reading multiple how-to articles and books, I still have no idea how to tackle this mountain.

As with most things in life, balance is the key.  Information gleaned from other people will help, but only to a certain level.  The rest has to come from me, which means I have to start making decisions on what pieces of advice I will follow and those I will ignore in favor of my own ideas.  In coming to this conclusion, I realize it’s not what I know that gets my foot in the publishing door, it’s the chances I’m willing to take to get my work noticed.

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c.b. 2012