A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.

A Day in the Life of a Multi-Hatted Writer

A cup of tea.

Make pack lunches for teenage daughters, find bus money, wave off daughters and partner.

Another cup of tea, accompanied by catching up with Twitter, Facebook and emails. Just in the last few months I’ve had to create a folder named Fan Mail. Because LINKED isn’t out yet, it’s mostly emails from people who love the premise/blurb/cover of the book, rather than the book itself, but it’s awfully nice to see interest growing!

A cup of coffee signals the beginning of serious writing. I’m lucky enough to have an office, with my main computer in it, but I often write sitting up at the kitchen breakfast bar, next to the kettle. I open Princess Erica my MacBook Air and read through what I wrote the day before. Partly I edit and tweak and correct, but mostly I’m getting back into the world of the story. Every day, those first new words are the hardest. But once I’m in the flow—particularly if I’m writing a nice argument scene, I love them—it goes better.

I’m a slow writer. My goal is 1000 words every week day, with weekends to catch up if I haven’t managed the full 1000 on a particular day. I know people who can write ten times that, and my envy is immense!

If I get stuck I take the laptop out to a coffee shop and write there. Sometimes, if I’m really stuck, I write with a pen and paper. It only takes a few paragraphs before I can copy it to the computer, and then I’m okay again.

By lunchtime, ish, I’m done with my words for the day. A few times a week I go for a run at this point. Even in the winter, when I was running over snow and slush and ice, with winds blowing into my face from the North Pole (probably), it was good to get out of my chair and do something with my legs!

After lunch I move to my office and do my “day job”, working as an editor and editorial assistant for Samhain Publishing, a digital-first US publisher. I answer emails, proof blurbs and covers, assign line editors to manuscripts, allocate submissions to acquiring editors, and edit the manuscripts I’m currently working on. It’s work I love—and it’s a great balance to the creative, messy, never-quite-finished work of writing the first draft of a book.

Lucy the cat keeps me company by climbing on my knee and going to sleep. Sometimes, if she thinks I ought to be stroking her, she puts up a paw and hooks my hand off the keyboard. And sometimes she brushes against the touchscreen of the computer and makes everything go




and I have to work out how to make it all go back.

At some point—sometimes when I can’t look at the screen any more, or just if the dust/washing-up/laundry is shouting at me too loudly—I do some housework. I had a cleaner for a while, when I was on a major deadline, but we can’t afford her right now, so we have a Roomba (best. thing. ever.) and my partner and I share the housework. And what neither of us gets around to doing, doesn’t get done. Books don’t get written by people with immaculate houses, after all!

My daughters come home and I take a quick break to say hi and make them cups of tea. Then the TV goes on in the sitting room and I return to my screen.

If I’m lucky, I’m finished with work by the time my partner gets home, and have managed to start dinner. I do a lot of cooking once for two meals, but we do a fair amount of pasta and readymade pizzas as well. Proper cooking normally waits for the weekend, when I have time.

I don’t work in the evening unless I HAVE to—I’d much rather have a glass of wine and watch a film with my family (we just finished the second season of Game of Thrones—oh my goodness, there are no words). But if I haven’t made word count that day I do sometimes take the laptop to bed and tap away into the small hours while my partner sleeps.

About Imogen Howson

magical fiction for young adults and adults

One comment on “A Day in the Life of a Multi-Hatted Writer

  1. rhianivory
    April 10, 2013

    I think 1000 words a day is pretty impressive considering all your other time constraints.

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2013 by and tagged , , .

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