Friday, 25 June 2010

A writer's day

Do you have a writing routine?' Question at school event.

6.30am. Alarm goes off. Shower and dress. Wake children.
7.15am. Check Hotmail accounts. Look at Facebook. Look at Twitter. Look at Read Guardian online. Feed guinea pigs.
7.30am Paperboy delivers Guardian. Flick through it, but have read most of it already. Start suduko puzzle. Make toast for son, who is playing on Wii.
7.55am Daughter appears downstairs. Nibbles piece of bread. Claims to have stomach ache. Diagnose non-urgent ailment and tell her she will survive a day at school.
8am Deliver children to various bus stops. Drive home. Cup of tea. Complete suduko puzzle. Gauge mental alertness by speed and ease of completing puzzle. Ok. Not bad.
8.50 am. Check Hotmail again. Check Blogger. Check Twitter. Check Amazon ranking. Google self. Check Facebook. Back to Hotmail.
9am. Switch off internet connection. Flex fingers. Empty mind of all thoughts except next chapter. Write a sentence. Delete it.
9.05am. Dressing-gowned husband comes down the stairs, carrying radio, blaring out Desert Island Discs. Makes himself toast. Spreads it with hummus. Sits down at table opposite me. Smell of hummus overwhelming.
9.06am. Switch internet connection back on again. Check Hotmail again. Check Blogger. Check Twitter. Check Amazon ranking. Google self. Check Facebook. Back to Hotmail.
9.07am. Glare at radio. Cough loudly. Say: ‘This is my workspace, you know.’
9.08 am. Decide to write later, do chores now. Will try and do everything with head full of plot and characters so that Chapter 10 will just flow when I start writing later.
9.30am. Go to supermarket.Float around thinking about Chapter 10. Spend vastly more than had expected.
9.45 am Go to WH Smith to buy envelopes for posting books. Check bookshelves. No, they haven’t started stocking my book. Walk to local independent bookshop, which has one copy of book. Buy it, as present for kind people who have invited us for supper tonight. Calculate amount of copies I will have to sell to cover cost of buying own book. Think it’s nine. Worry about whether local bookshop will bother to restock book now I have bought last one.
10 am. Get home. Write an entire paragraph. Car alarm goes off on the industrial estate at the bottom of my garden. Decide to make lasagne for tomorrow’s lunch. Worry about daughter’s stomach ache. Car alarm still going. Delete paragraph.
10.10am Realise that have not bought cheese at supermarket. Can't make lasagne without cheese. Walk to corner shop. Buy local paper and cheese.
10. 30am. Car alarm still going. Ring company that runs warehouse which backs onto our house. Discover that they haven't used that warehouse for six years. No, they don't know which company has taken over.
10.35am Hotmail/Google/Facebook/Twitter/Blogger/Amazon. Oooh. Have gone up 40,000 places in ranking since last checked Amazon. Rush over to Excellent. Have sold one book on Amazon today.
10.45am Car alarm still going. Make lasagne. Read local paper while it is in oven. Check hotmail etc.
11.35am. Lasagne is ready. Perhaps I should go to library to escape car alarm. But laptop battery only has one and a half hours to go. Decide to hang on – surely someone will switch off car alarm - and wait until the battery has run out and then I can charge it up again. Write some emails. Moan about car alarm on twitter and Facebook. Enagage in light banter. Feel relieved that others are wasting time social networking during the day.
12.10pm. Eat lunch. Do some admin. Car alarm still going. Call environmental health, who are not there and do not have an answerphone.
12.30 pm. Call police. 'We'll see what we can do,' they say. 'Have you tried ringing environmental health?'
12.40 pm. Husband says: ‘Shall we go to the park and have lunch? After all you can’t be getting much writing done with that alarm going off.’
Me: ‘I’ve had lunch.’
12.45pm Try environmental health again. Get cut off. Check Hotmail etc….
2pm It’s 2pm? How can it be 2pm ? I’ve achieved nothing !
2.05pm Get through to environmental health. Report car alarm. ‘Someone will call you shortly,’ they say.
2.10pm. Start writing blog post. Why am I writing blog post when I haven’t written any of target 1,000 words of chapter 10? Why? Why? Because it’s easier, is why.
2.50pm. Hotmail etc. Some interesting blogs to read. Environmental health call, promise that they will track down alarm and stop it.
3.10pm. Suddenly realise how to start Chapter 10. Start writing. I like it! Write 600 words….I love it…this is great stuff…I can hardly hear the car alarm.
3.35pm Environmental health call. They have located the car alarm. Trying to find its owner. Promise me it will be turned off within two hours. I can hear the alarm twice - on the phone and in real life. 'It's very loud, isn't it?' says the environmental health officer.
3.40pm. Daughter arrives home from school. Stomach ache all day. Turned away from medical room because it was too full. Likes the new school skirt I have bought her because it is extremely short. Helps herself to snack and goes upstairs.
3.45pm Writing like a maniac. Writing like a genius. Love it, love it…chapter 10 is going to be fantastic. I’m making myself laugh…this book is really coming together…Car alarm drones on.
4.05pm Son arrives home from school. Switches on TV. ‘I can’t believe you aren’t watching Brazil versus Portugal.’ Grind teeth. Go on writing. Alarm ringing in one ear, vuvuzelas in the other.
4.35pm Yes! 1,000 words. Done! Don’t read them through in case I hate them.
4.40pm. Rush to post office to post copy of book to school that missed out when we were handing them out at Islington Carnegie event. Buy washing powder, cherries...all the things I forgot at supermarket in the morning.
5pm. Arrive home. Check Hotmail etc. Lovely email from two of the girls who were at Islington Carnegie event, they have already read When I Was Joe and they enjoyed it. Thanks Angel and Natasha!
5.30 pm. Car alarm stops. Phew. Hurray for Haringey Council's environmental health department!
18.00 pm Finish blog post. Switch off computer.


  1. Do you get Google to send you alerts? Might save a bit of time with the googling if you don't.

  2. Hilarious, Keren! Congrats on getting your 1K quota in despite all the distractions. On a typical day it takes me THREE HOURS to get to my desk. Yep: just to get to the sodding desk. Interesting to see the ABBA blog on how little one gets done, though, after the kids have flown the nest...for me, as with you, it's as much about the brain-space they take up as the actual time doing school-run etc.

  3. Wow! You are a lot busier than I am, even with my move coming up. My day would involve some different things though, such as:

    10.30 am: find neighbours' cat has done a poo in the spare room. Sharpen stick.

  4. Brilliant and despite all that, you got your quota done! Atta, girl! ;-)

  5. Very funny and all too familiar. (But wish you hadn't mentioned - didn't know about that one.) Congratulations on your powers of procrastination and concentration, and on getting those 1000 words done.

  6. Impressed that you can fit so much into a day. But what do you do after 6pm?

  7. @Ellen Novelrank is a nightmare. Very very inaccurate...or so I am assured.

    @Anne. Oh I have google alert. I just don't trust it fully.

    @Madame. Today went out for supper to the people we got our guinea pigs from (aka the local rabbi's wife) and admired some absolutely tiny tiny baby guinea pigs which were the cutest things ever. But very often write between 10 and midnight, particularly when (as usual) I have failed to reach my 1,000 word target.

    @Thomas. I missed out 'Chased neighbour's cat out of garden because I don't like the way it is eyeing guinea pigs.'

    @Fiona. At least you have a desk to get to.

  8. I'm so impressed you actually got some writing done yesterday - especially with all that going on! My scribbled notes on Post-its are exactly where they were yesterday. Ho hum.

  9. Hah! I have the same grocery store problem. I keep thinking if I wasn't so distracted, maybe I could only make one run... but haven't yet made that work for me.

  10. brilliant post! reminds me of the talk meg rosoff gave once in which she simply went through the history of urls she visited over a day.

  11. you are a busy bee! lol

  12. I love any writing routine that involves "google self." My writing day involves sour ju jubes, sushi and the sasquatch ...

  13. But what did you tell the children who first asked the question? Did you say that you worked from 9 til 5 in a hushed study... or did you tell them the truth?

  14. I said 'In an ideal world...'

  15. Does it not frustrate the hell out of you? I'm at the end of my tether with all the interruptions and no-one seeming to take what I'm doing seriously. "There's no rush... It'll happen when it happens... it's just a hobby... you should do the washing etc during the day then you can relax on an evening/weekend..." etc etc. I set myself "working" hours of 9am to 3pm Tuesday to Friday... I'd be out of the house longer than that if I had a "proper" job. This working from home lark isn't was I thought it would be :o(