Patrons requests a look at the day in the life of a writer. So, I tabbed through a week of my averages to show the full scope of how I spend my time living creatively.
Because I’m currently only waiting tables twice a week, I rarely keep to a schedule outside those two days. One of the biggest advantages of being able to write full time is that I don’t have to stop working at 9pm to get to bed in order to be ready for work the next day, I can write until 3am if the groove is good and the words are flowing.
This ability to keep a push going has allowed me to create more, and with better quality of flow for the lack of interruptions. Then I sleep it off and start again the next day. On the night before I go to wait tables, I still pull a 3am if I’m on a roll, simply because I know I can stagger through two days of service work, and sleep in off at the end of my shift. (I could never do that when working a 9-5, M-F)
A week in the life currently assumes that Tuesday and Wednesday are my non-creative days. Very productive, but mostly centered around maintenance, and social needs.
On the days I wait tables, I generally get up at 5:30am. (sometimes with 2-3 hours of sleep) It’s a half hour drive down the mountain to the restaurant, where I do a shift (6-8 hours) depending on how much needs to get done. Then I run errands in South County, usually covered in bleach, coffee, and ketchup. Post office, bank, small grocery outlet, car store, etc. I know when I get home on those days, my energy is already blown for creative work, so I bracket my evenings to do non-creative maintenance: housework, bills, organizing, cleaning, etc. OR I make plans to go visit friends and maintain some social activities, phone calls, and the like.
My creative days start between 6:30am – 7-30am, depending on how late I wrote the night before.
Wake up, start the water for the coffee while I set up my area. Sit down (still in pajamas) to journal, write down dreams, to do list, planning, etc. Press coffee, and work on whatever is most “surfaced” until 9:30 or 10am.
“Surfaced” means, whatever writing or planning is most clear or ready to be worked on first thing in the morning. It could be whatever I was working on the night before that needs to feel finished, or it could be a blog post, a planning schedule, a batch of emails, etc. “Surfaced” is what I don’t have to strain for when I’m still not totally awake.
If I’m writing emails, or blog posts, I store them in a file to take to town. Since I don’t have internet access, I save all my communications and take them home to reply – then cut and paste my responses when I’m in sending range. Either on my cell phone, or from my laptop at the library or coffee shop. (Emails can be friendly correspondence, or business wrangling, check-in updates, or scheduling)
I break around 10ish for a food and a shower.
Between 10-12: get cleaned up, prep whatever needs to be put in a crockpot for dinner, light housekeeping, or yard work, anything to get my body moving after sitting for a few hours.
Two days a week I drive to Central County to use the internet. I try to make plans with one other human at least once a week on those trips, as well as fit in one large weekly shopping stop: groceries, gas, house supplies (water filters, fuel, etc.).
I park at a coffee shop or at the library from 12 to about 3:30 to write, work on my website, upload files, download Netflix, update my laptop, send out marketing bumps, send patreon updates, send/receive emails, booking classes, and research…research…research.
Lots of research.
Since I only have a few hours a couple times a week, and the bulk of my time is spent wrangling data flow—which means I don’t have time to surf the news, get tangled in Facebook arguments, or scroll through my feeds. I’m in and out of the internet with a mission.
When I get home I’m usually exhausted. I get home between 4-7 then spend those evenings writing replies to emails I saw while in town so I don’t forget, or I write, work on character sheets, plot sheets, and such from my cozy bed with a glass of wine.
Since my storyboard is in my bedroom, I often work in bed with my laptop, dinner, and a drink. Totally spoiled. (This is also the reason a keep a batch of clean sheets on the dresser—regularly spilling food, or whiskey in bed)
*Also on my internet days, I schedule classes and workshops to teach, or meet with clients for creativity and writing consulting. I try to fit internet days in the same slot to save trips to town.
I love non-internet days. I really do. Three days a week, I don’t leave my house. I break for food and puttering around 10, then pick up an early afternoon nap, or sit down at my work station to sculpt, or make videos for patrons. Between noon and about 4pm, I design recipes, work on my photography, write, write, write, layout chapters, work on the glossary for my world, or practice a new craft (candles, wood burning, etc.)
Between 3 and 4pm:
I wander down the road to the mailbox to stretch my legs. I might work in the yard for an hour (for all the good it does, you can’t tell I’ve touched the yard at all).
I sit down in my cozy spot to write again, with a plate of dinner.
Depending on my groove, I might write for an hour, or 8 hours. These days, it’s been a lot of editing, but when I burn out on the edits, I switch over to world design or developmental work.
Some days, when my brain is overloaded, or I’m emotionally exhausted, I’ll spend the evening with some Netflix downloads, or in the bathtub reading. In the summer, I would sit out by the firepit and listen to the river, and making notes. Keeping balanced is important. So, I do fit in a lot of rest to compensate for long nights. I fit in a lot of creative exploration, to keep my energy levels up with other craft projects and interests. I fit in social time, to break up isolation. I fit in movement (sort of) to break up all the sitting in front of my screen time.
I could tell people I’m a full-time writer, because I am. But to be more accurate, I often just say, I’m a Creative. The difference is that living a creative life is a lifestyle for me now, not a job description. I now have the blessing of writing within a light scheduling framework for as much as I can physically/mentally handle. To take some of that strain physically and mentally, I augment with other creative outlets, and rest. I privilege I didn’t have before.
The result is the most productive year of my life thus far. Tabulating the output of being able to work and rest as needed, rather than around a corporate energy sinkhole has resulted in;
- One and a half novel manuscripts (one ready for an editor, the other still in pre-process for beta)
- Approximately 250,000 words total (850 pages)
- One erotica short story collection (currently in beta)
- A series of workshops produced and delivered (8 successful sessions taught in county)
- Three small projects mapped and started (workbook, photobook, cookbook)
- 12 recipes produced and sent to patrons
- 7 videos produced and released to patrons
- 8 audio chapters sent to patrons
- 12 newsletters to patrons
- 12 mid-month updates to public
- More photography than I can count
- 12 articles on creativity
- Miscellaneous projects and products created (five types of liquors, pickles, candles, teas, etc. for eventual storefront)
- I’ve averaged 30 hours of solid writing time a week for the last eight months
- I’ve averaged 20 hours of creative development time a week for the last eight months
- I’ve worked part time as a waitress for the last several months
So, when I look at the walls in my house that still need paint, and the to-do list as long as my leg, I’m okay with it. Okay because, I know I’ll get the painting done eventually. Okay, because I know the money will eventually come for larger home projects. Okay because—it’s tight right now and I know I may have to go back to the corporate world soon, if I can’t wrangle funds for production…but I did what I set out to do in proving I can be a creative.
Okay because, I did more this year than I dreamt I could ever do. (maybe too much, and too scattered, but focus is honing in).
I’ve never been happier or more fulfilled, so yeah, I’m okay. I’m better than okay.
A week in the life of a creative is, well, fluid and yet still energy packed. Some days I fall asleep in my clothes with my laptop on my pillow. Sometimes, I get up and drive to town to search the craft store for a new idea, or have a whirlwind social day. Still, everyday I chip away at projects, problem solving character arcs while I’m driving, or plotting vanishing points, thinking up recipes and building concepts: even when I’m doing laundry, or trimming the raspberries. The creative flow is always on, even during the mundane.
Now, I have to figure out how to make this last as long as possible in order to start seeing the return. It will eventually come back as a viable sustainable resource, but it’s slow to propagate, as with most beginnings.
Until then I keep creating, keep believing, keep feeling the love.