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A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Author

A Day in the Life of a Full-Time Author

What does a day in life of a full-time author look like? While I can’t speak for the likes of Stephen King or J.K. Rowling (or, actually, anybody else), I can share with you what a day in the life of this author looks like right now.

First off, you should brace yourself for much glamor, many autograph requests, an embarrassing amount of pleading from Ridley Scott to buy the rights to my next book, and lots and lots of coffee and chocolate.

Okay, so maybe just the coffee and chocolate…

Now that you’ve finished bracing yourself: welcome to my day!

Morning: Pre-Writing

  • At 7:36-ish, I squint at clock and try to justify sleeping in. Nope, can’t do it. Drag self out of bed.
  • Morning devotions: prayer, two chapters in 2 Kings, and half a chapter in Matthew Lee Anderson’s End of Our Exploring.
Morning Devotion Bible Prayer Guide End of Our Exploring Matthew Lee Anderson

The blue thing is an art pencil with no eraser. I use it to do acu-pressure on my jaw for TMJ problems while I read. I really don’t think the Lord minds.

  • Workout: Start with some free weight work, then make myself a smoothie for breakfast and take it outside for a mile walk. Finish up with some standing sit-ups. I’ve just about eliminated other exercises, since there’s always some nagging injury that flares up whenever I try anything else.
Morning Walk With Smoothie Shadow

Yes, I really do have just one arm. It’s only until today that I was able to successfully keep this a secret.

Smoothie for Breakfast

Summer smoothie: strawberries, blueberries, yogurt, grape juice, and greens.

Writing Time!

  • Roundabout 10AM, it’s time to get down to the main business of the day: writing! I dedicate two hours every morning to my active WIP. Right now, that’s my historical superhero story Wayfarer. I only just moved my writing session to the morning a few months ago, and I love being able to tackle writing before my brainwaves get scattered by the busywork of email and other projects.
Writing Wayfarer in Scrivener

First work of the day: nice clean desk, nice clean brain. Now if only that always meant a nice clean manuscript!

Writing Wayfarer Fullscreen in Scrivener

Time to go fullscreen in Scrivener!

Writing Chocolate Truffle

Don’t forget the Donckels chocolate truffle for brain food!

Early Afternoon: Down to Business

  • After writing, it’s time to whip up some lunch.
Lunch Macaroni and CHeese in the Oven

Your favorite and mine: mac and cheese.

  • Gotta take the dog for a spin.
This is Crazy Bob trying really hard to convince me he should get to chase after Squigglie the Squirrel.

This is Crazy Bob trying really hard to convince me he should get to chase after Squigglie the Squirrel.

Crazy Bob Black Lab Sniffing Grass

This is Crazy Bob thinking there’s nothing that could possibly be more fascinating than a clump of dried hay clippings.

Crazy Bob Black Lab Nose in Hole

This is Crazy Bob hoping desperately to find a snake in the ditch hole.

  • Then it’s back to work.
Email

First up is email.

Twitter

Then we gotta check with the tweeps via TweetDeck.

Comments

And answer all those awesome blog comments!

French

Brush up on my French très rapidement.

  • And then it’s time for my favorite part of the afternoon!
Coffee Time

Coffee time!

But no rest for the working. Gotta drink it on the job.

  • Once I’ve finished catching up on email and social media, I have about an hour to spend working on other projects. But first I have to touch base with my favorite assistant, who also just happens to be my favorite sister (she’d tell you I say that just because she’s my only sister and, actually, my only assistant).
Assistant

Her questions are usually a little more on point. Usually.

Post

I actually don’t usually write blog posts in the middle of the week. I dedicate a special day to getting most of the posts done at once. But this was an “extra” one.

Late Afternoon: The Other “Big” Project

  • By 4 PM, I try to have all my “extra” work out of the way, so I can spend the rest of the afternoon focusing on whatever other “big” project I have on my plate (the first “big” project of the day being, of course, writing itself). Right now, that project is finishing up final edits on my historical aviation-adventure novel Storming.
Editing With Jelly Beans

I’m splurging with jelly beans for this project. They help me concentrate. No really!

Evening: Done for the Day

  • And now that my work is done, I get to kick back, starting with supper. Tonight, it’s baked chicken with white beans.
  • Then a movie. Right now, I’m doing a Pixar marathon, going through all their movies in chronological order.
Bug's Life VHS

And, yes, I’m still rocking the VHS.

  • Finally, it’s my big end-of-the-day reward: two hours of reading time!
Bookshelf, Kindle, Metamorphosis

The blue thing is a Book Seat–for hands-free reading.

Time to hit the sack and thank God I get to wake up tomorrow morning and do it all over again!

Let’s chat! If you’re a writer, where does your writing fit into your daily schedule? If you’re a reader, where does your reading fit in? Tell me in the comments!

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82 Comments

  1. Great post, lol. Love that you fit time in for exercise and chocolate while still cranking out the words. I’m still trying to find that balance myself while working full time.

  2. Fabio Martinez says:

    I wish I had all that organisation in my life! Actually, I start writing early in the morning and go all day long, with many breaks in between sessions to read The Song of Ice and Fire, eat something and go to the gym. : )

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Sounds awesome! Sometimes I dream about actually *writing* all day long. But for me, “writing” full-time actually means there’s a ton of other stuff that has to get done too.

  3. Hey leftie….get a french press!! =)

    It’s funny when you don’t know someone well enough yet, and then all of a sudden you realize something about them that totally makes you laugh. That would be your mention of your TMJ problems and your lack of another arm…. yeah, I was just busting up laughing. Well maybe not busting up, but laughing nonetheless. So thanks for that!

    This is really cool. I think I’ve always wondered how authors ‘work.’ That’s a tight ship you run there. Before getting a german shepherd puppy four months back, my schedule used to be very similar! But now, I write whenever I can throughout the day (usually when this 7 month old pup is sleeping!). And because he might wake up and start playing with toys, I have to wear ear plugs just to be sure!

    Btw, My dog’s name is Guff, and he says hi to Crazy Bob. He doesn’t have many friends, but he wishes Bob would be his! How old is C.B.?

    So anyways, super cool post Katie! Oh and…you totally need a french press! Once you have one, you won’t want to go back to drip (I SWEAR!) 😉

    P.S. Recipe for your mac and cheese??

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Awww, German shepherd puppy! Bob totally says “hi” back. Bob’s getting up there. He’s almost ten years old now. His toes are turning gray. :p

      I’m actually only a leftie on the computer. I shot my right wrist to pieces doing graphic design work years ago, so I taught myself to use the mouse left-handed.

      And, yeah, I have tried a French press. But I wasn’t *that* impressed with it, and I’m just generally too lazy. Granted, my technique was probably lacking.

      My mac and cheese recipe is the bomb. It only took me all my life to finally figure out a homemade mac and cheese recipe that is literally as good as the Velveeta stuff out of the box. And it’s really easy too! All you gotta do is put your cooked pasta in a baking dish along with a ton of cheese–and a nice amount of heavy whipping cream (that’s the secret ingredient). I’ll add some Parmesan, and if I have them, garlic-stuffed olives. Yumzers!

      • Glad Bob wants to be friends! Haha, is that what happens when them dogs get old?

        That’s an interesting fact about your wrist. Good idea.

        Bah! You definitely probably didn’t have the proper ‘French press’ technique. I like it better because the grounds sit longer in the water, which means more flavor (and more caffeine)! If you change your mind or ever get one, let me know…I’ll have a fistful of tips for ya 🙂

        Hmm, sounds good. I’ll have to try that next time I make M&C.

        Garlic stuffed olives are a blessing from God…

  4. Ray Suchow says:

    Good Morning, K.M.! As a full-time technology and religious studies educator, I find my morning writing time (usually 6-7 AM) to be very precious indeed! It enables me to turn an article idea into a draft, or a draft into a more coherent document before the demands of the other passion (teaching!) take precedence. Prayer is part of my morning as well. I thank God for his many gifts, we pray as a staff, and I pray with my students. It is a blessing indeed to have time for so many good things in a morning, since it powers me up for the rest of the day!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Very true! I used to save my writing time for the very last thing in the working day–so I’d have the best part to look forward to. But it’s so easy to get scattered and distracted before that. I’m really enjoying doing my writing first thing in the morning these days.

      • I love your observation about writing ‘Before the day scatters me’! That is so very true! And that could be the title for an article on the subject! Hmm! Even on a work day, my Terri-poo is still snuggling with my daughter, work emails full of tech problems have not started pounding in yet, and the sun is a warm glow in the east. Wonderful! I’m glad you are enjoying that most productive time. May it continue to work out very well for you!!

        • K.M. Weiland says:

          Dana–below–is the one who gets credit for that great line!

          • Dana, you’ve created a great catch-phrase which rings true for many writers. May we all enjoy less scatter and more chatter–especially from our keyboards and characters!

  5. I loved hearing about your day! It’s so fun to peek into another writer’s life. I get my best work done in the AM before the day scatters me (also it’s when my kids are usually at school!).

  6. It’s nice to see how the day of another writer goes! Such a good idea to check e-mails only once per day, because they tend to distract.

    At the moment I try to write after 9pm when both my pre-schooler and my newborn are sleeping.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Weeelll, I wouldn’t go so far as to say I only check email once a day. :p Aside from writing time, my email is pretty much always “up” in the browser, and I’ll keep up with it intermittently throughout the day.

      • I find it so tempting to check my e-mail all the time. And Facebook. And other sites. Aaaaagh 🙂 It’s a good thing Scrivener has a full-screen mode!

        • K.M. Weiland says:

          Yes! My only complaint with Scrivener’s full-screen mode is that their thesaurus stinks–so I often have to exit full screen to access my Encarta dictionary.

  7. Andrea Buford says:

    What a great post and I loved Crazy Bob! I often wonder how other writers arrange their time for writing and what works best for them. I agree, mornings seem to be the best time for me too. My head is clear and the cats retire for their early siesta. The house is quiet and I can get into the zen of writing. I think when you write at about the same time every day it becomes a wonderful ritual and the words flow easier. I’m reading your book Structuring your Novel and I love it. Thanks for all the helpful tips you take the time to share!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Awesome to hear you found Structuring Your Novel useful! I definitely agree about getting our brains in the habit of being creative at certain times of the day.

  8. Enjoyed this post. It’s very similar to my writing life. 🙂

  9. Loved this post. As a fellow writer and an artist (who also writes about art), I love hearing how other creatives get their work done.

    But I just have to ask….

    What in the world is a standing sit up?

  10. Thanks for that post. I found it very motivating! And it reminded me of how much I enjoyed it when I had a regular time for taking some time to meditate first thing in the morning then hitting my word count, before doing anything else, including the things that SEEM more important because they have actual deadlines. After a month long trip away from home, I completely let that habit fall to the way side (well, it was hardly a habit yet, I’d only been doing it for a couple of months, but it was awesome.) I’m now determined to get back to it. So, thank you! 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      My morning writing routine is actually a pretty new thing for me–as of this summer. Forever’n’ever before that, I wrote from 4-6PM. But here lately the pressures of “other things” just seemed to be overwhelming if not my actual writing time, then at least my brain. I’m totally loving the new writing-first routine.

  11. A bit different than my day. 😛

    1. Wake up.
    2. Sit at computer.
    3. Intend to write.
    4. Procrastinate by reading through K.M. Weiland’s blog.

    Maybe not too productive… But it is entertaining!

  12. Quite a fun post! 🙂 I used to have a VHS of A Bug’s Life as well. It got watched so many times that most of the climax was a bunch of staticky fuzz. I finally broke down and got the Blu-Ray a couple years ago…

    Also, Crazy Bob is super cute! I’ve got two Labradoodles that also love their mornings walks.

    Random question: do you have a favorite coffee brand/blend?

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      First, an admission: for all that I lurve coffee, I am totally not a coffee snob.

      That said, the two brands I’m really enjoying right now are Cafe La Llave and Millstone’s Mayan Black Onyx.

      • One more thing: thank you infinitely for mentioning Duolingo in your post. I’ve been looking for a free program to help me learn Irish (a little research stuff for my current WIP trilogy).

        • K.M. Weiland says:

          Yes! It’s awesome. I’m having a ton of fun with French. You know it’s finally starting to click when you wake up in the morning and your first thought, leftover from a dream, is a cohesive French sentence!

  13. Great post. Interesting to see how other writers tackle their day. Mine has been a bit unstructured of late so I started a new schedule yesterday (and it’s been working pretty well so far.) Get up at 9 and take care of morning chores (feeding the pets, shower, breakfast, etc.); 10 start writing in 50-minute bursts, followed by 20 minute bouts on the exercise bike. 1 p.m Lunch break, walk the dog, get the mail, etc. 2 p.m. begins next round of writing and exercise bursts. 5 p.m. Catch up on email, blogging, social media sites, feed the animals, feed myself; 7 pm..tv time; 10 read scripts; 12 read from a novel or short story. Sleep. Repeat.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      I like the idea of intermixing writing with exercise. Aside from getting you away from the desk and getting the blood pumping, its also a great way to internalize what you’ve already written and get your mind on straight for what comes next.

  14. How on earth can you write on such a small surface? I need to have at least a metre either side of me for papers, pens, pads, coffee, tea, you name it! And working past 4pm is a struggle in my house. Thinking about it, so is exercise before 10 am, hmmm.

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Hah! This space is actually pretty luxurious for me. I used to have a computer cabinet instead of a desk–so no space on either side at all!

  15. So is the hands free book seat cat friendly? You know, because my cats see me with a book in the lap and decide it’s “lap time.” When I’m reading on the iPad, they’re even happier. Rubbing their face along one side, then the other, walking in front of the screen, of course.
    My full-time writing day is strangely similar – except I usually start with exercise at 6AM. If the sun is up, so am I.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      It would *totally* get covered in fur, since it’s kind of suede nap. The cats would probably love it more than you. 😉

  16. Debra Jones says:

    We had a discussion about this blog post tonight at the dinner table. The discussion surrounded the picture that shows you only having one arm. (And your Crazy Black Lab, we have one too.) We could not figure out if you were joking or if you really have one arm. We have seen pictures of you with two. Could you please satisfy our curiosity and let us know.

  17. I like reading more towards the end of the day. I’ve been training myself to get up five in the morning so I can draw and get my art flowing. Then sometime I do my writing in the afternoon or late evening.

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Yes, even though reading (for writers) is still “work” in a sense, it feel too much like a reward to start off with it!

  18. Katie,
    I’m curious: You mention that you dedicate two hours every day to your WIP. What kind of yield does that two hours bring you? Do you have a specific amount of words you shoot for, or a specific number of pages you try and accomplish in two hours? Or is it more of a general guideline? I’m curious to know what kinds of ‘fruits of labor’ come from a two-hour window for a vetted author. Thanks.

    Zach

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      First off, I’ll admit it: I’m a slow writer. I’m not one of those writers who could crank out a book a month, even if I wanted to. I don’t focus on word counts, since I find them mostly counterproductive (as per this post on Helping Writers Become Authors), but I average around 1,500 words per session.

  19. What a fantastic day. I loved seeing all the photos and hearing how you do things. It sounds nice and organized. 🙂 And how cool that you use Duolingo! I’m working on French too, when I can. 🙂

  20. I loved this post. I’ve read about Stephen King’s daily schedule, but unlike him, I actually have a full-time job. But now that I work from home and my kids are all grown, I feel like your schedule is closest to who I am today and what I try to do. Thanks for the inspiration and for sharing yourself with your fans (because that’s what I am, anyway.) Much aloha!

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      In all truth, even though my “job” is all about the writing (and I feel very blessed that it is), it’s ultimately very like having a non-writing job, in that most of the business stuff that takes up most of my day isn’t actually writing. Who knew? :p

  21. A day in the life of a full time writer…

    Like you, Katie, I’m up around 7-7:30am, every day, despite my insomniac tendencies. If it is not an exercise day, which I do 3 mornings a week, it’s straight to the shower. After shower, breakfast. It’s been winter here, so porridge is the breakfast of champions – people in the US call porridge grits, I think. My two housemates are up around 6:45-7am and have gone to work by 7:30am.

    While I down a bowl of hot porridge I check emails and Facebook. I like to stay informed on what’s happening in the world, and see your posts, Katie; mostly to stay in touch with family and friends. I also get posts from my favourite Science sites, especially in my field of research – cognitive linguistics and cognitive sciences.

    Then it’s off to my favourite caffeine dispenser, the Xpresso Bar, downtown. I get my soy-latte and write solidly for two, two and a half hours. I can do this before the business crowd show up for their morning coffee, and the new mum’s come with their 3-week-olds and chat over a coffee about their younglings. I have learned a lot about this interesting time for new mums, just from eavesdropping. 😉

    I am a member of the local museum and art gallery and head there with my packed lunch. It’s not Thursday, so the business group – a nice bunch – won’t have crowded the members lounge. I’ll continue with my writerly pursuits and work on my other projects too, until around 3:30pm; if I’m not teaching in the afternoon.

    Around 3:30pm, a few retired PhDers come and chat about life and the problems of the world. If they come up with a decent solution to any problem, they will send it off to the government people dealing with the issue. I sometimes contribute to this discussion thinking I might have something decent ideas to offer.

    At around 4:30pm, I do some shopping hoping there are lots of specials on. I head home if I’m not going to an event at the museum or to some other meeting to do with my interest areas, and arrive home about 5-5:30pm.

    I load my favourite PC game, Civilization V, and play for an hour or so. I play to keep my brain sharp. Then I decide what to do for supper. If my housemates are home, I will cook for three; or one of them will cook for the rest of us – we do this at least 3 nights a week. The rest of the week it is cook for number one!

    Sometimes my 2 housemates and I will watch a TV program while we eat – lately it’s been re-runs of the X-Files, and pine for the new X-Files show coming in January 2016. If not this, I will watch a DVD or TV show on my own – lately I’ve been watching Homeland. Last night I watched again the movie Broken City Starring Russel Crowe, Mark Walberg and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    Movie or TV show over with, I do some reading; usually reference works I’m interested in or those related to my field and Katie’s books, Structuring Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel Workbook. My fiction reading regime is this: I read when I go to bed – my ‘bed time’ book; I read when I take the bus – my ‘travel’ book; I read a third book in between the other two. At the moment, my bedtime book is Sword Song by Bernard Cromwell; my bus book is The Girl With The Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier; my third book is The Book of Evidence by John Banville.

    I read in bed until I fall asleep, only to wake again at around 2am because I suffer with insomnia. I read again until I fall asleep, to find myself awake again around 4am. Sheesh. I wake again to hear one of my housemates, usually Paul, in the shower at about 6:40am – he works for the Navy and is studying radar technologies. Then my other housemate, Grant, is up and showering – he’s a barista and studies self-sufficiency through urban gardening, and is in the garden most days preparing the next lot of home-grown vegies and herbs.

    Then I face a new day with new possibilities…

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      Sorry about the insomnia. That’s never fun. I love that you visit an art gallery for lunch and further writing. Great way to leverage multi-media inspiration!

  22. Wow well planned….I start writing whenever I wake up be it 4am or 7am for 3 hours ish then a cuppa(made by hubby) Housework/shopping or coffee morning then if at home I eat and then it’s e-mails and blog checking.I like to finish by 3pm and then it’s puppy walking, maybe a quiet read before dinner.But no set times really sometimes I set the timer but doesn’t seem to work for me 🙂

    • K.M. Weiland says:

      I sometimes wish my body wanted to get up earlier. I think I’d probably be fresher longer if I did. But alas I love the late nights too, and I simply *must* have 8 1/2 hours of sleep to function.

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