Some people believe writers are enigmatic figures who spend their days drinking alcohol and taking exotic drugs to enhance their creativity like Lord Byron or Keats were in their day. Others see writers as misunderstood misfits who spend too much time naval gazing to happily exist in the cold hard world of reality. I’m here to shatter that illusion by writing about a typical day in the life of a writer, well, this writer.
My day starts when the sun rises. At this time of year in Queensland (Australia), that’s at around 4.45am. It’s hard to argue when the bright sunlight lights up our bedroom from across the ocean. Once it announces the start of a new day, I get out of bed and play with our golden retriever puppy Lottie for a few minutes before I do some meditating and journaling to get myself into the best headspace for the day ahead. My daughter will generally get up around then and we’ll then play a game involving who can say “good morning” in the funniest way possible. You’d be surprised by how long that game can last, and my wife often celebrates it being finished. Then I’ll spend some time with my family before I head off for the day.
Where to go is the first creative part of my day. I have a number of favorite working spots in the local vicinity. They’re usually charming cafes where I know the owners well. For me, starting the day with a great coffee in a café is one of the great joys of not working in an office. I love it. So I’ll locate myself at one of my favorite cafés, and then I’ll generally do a couple of hours of writing or editing, depending on what I’m working on. The morning coffee always seems to get the creative juices flowing, so I aim to take advantage of that. Often, my biggest challenge during this part of the day is talking too much with fellow coffee drinkers frequenting the same cafes. I enjoy a friendly chat and it’s not uncommon for me to be still talking with a stranger I’ve just met two hours later. I reckon that’s one of the greatest parts of being a writer—we’re curious to learn about the world around us. And the upside is I often come across random facts and ideas which end up in my writing.
After coffee, I tend to relocate to a park table or the like. Working outside provides me with so much inspiration so I tend to avoid offices like the plague. For the next few hours, I generally focus on the contract work I currently do to generate income. That’s another fallacy a lot of people have about writers—that we’re all rich and famous. Alas no. At least not yet in my case. That means juggling the writing with other income generating work, in my case sustainability research and writing. It’s not easy and it takes a lot of discipline, but the good news is the freelance economy is booming since the pandemic so there’s ample opportunity to work remotely these days. I’d go so far as to say there’s never been a better time to be a writer supporting yourself with freelance work.
Depending on what I’m working on, I’ll then be engaged in contract work throughout the course of the day. Because I start work so early I generally aim for a quit time of around 4pm. That gives me some flexibility to deal with any writing-related business such as marketing and admin after 4pm. I’ve learnt that being a writer involves being good at many things in addition to writing, and having some flexibility for that is vital.
So I essentially break down my day into three parts with my main writing work first thing in the morning, my writing business in the late afternoon, and my income-generating work in the main part of the day. You may note booze and exotic drugs don’t rank highly on my daily to do list. Although, after a big week of juggling writing and income-generating work, I do enjoy relaxing with good glass of red wine. So there’s a little bit of Lord Byron in me after all.
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