Your daily routine – Do you have one and what is it? by Sarah Naughton
Sometimes I wake at 3am with that sinking feeling of being horribly, perkily awake. I will lie staring at the ceiling for an hour or two before finally inviting Melvin Bragg into my bed. Usually In Our Time works like a mallet to the temple, but during one particularly bleak insomnia bout recently I had learned all there is to know about Nuclear Fusion, Queen Hatshepsut and Bruegel’s The Fight Between carnival and Lent by sun up. Problems metastasise at that time of night, and a query on a gas bill can seem like a terminal prognosis.
After I drop the kids off at school I might have a grumpy, twitchy coffee with a forgiving friend when actually I’d rather be at home writing. If I’m stuck I’ll stay in a coffee bar with an actual ‘pen’ and ‘paper’ and try and thrash the idea into shape. Often accompanied by butter-steeped pastry.
Sometimes I try and exercise. Swimming is good for a bit of left brain problem solving when you think you’ve exhausted all plot avenues.
I used to try and write 500 words a day – as recommended by Graham Greene in order to finish a novel in a year – but now I like to average around 1000. Getting a book finished isn’t the problem, it’s the snail pace of getting published.
Recently social media has got its fangs into me. As soon as I hit the slightest snag in a sentence, I’ll flip straight across to Twitter. It’s slightly chilling when you start following a thread about some innocuous subject like #sproutrecipes which, by comment three has become I’m going to chop your head off you f****** ***t. It makes me hate people a bit. Chop their effing heads off I say.
Spending much of the day on my arse means that, however warm it might be, I usually end up like Bob Cratchit by school pick-up time – my fingers and toes blue and stiff with cold, my knees creaking.
3.20 marks the end of productive endeavour for a few hours while my kids are fed, laundered, read to, nagged, separated, lectured, and refused Minecraft. When they were babies 7pm was the witching hour when wine and computer would be cracked open for a few hours writing in the evening. Alas this golden time is now interrupted by increasingly sophisticated argument as to why Minecraft ought to be instated as part of the bedtime routine, or fights about how the older one can’t climb into his bunk because the younger one keeps tickling his feet. Hilarious recounted at 10am, incandescently infuriating at 10pm.
At bedtime I read my kindle (with it’s useful dictionary for when I’m tackling Will Self or Ray Bradbury). If it’s a good book I’ll be asleep in about 3 paragraphs, if it’s bad I read the most outrageous sections to my husband until he tells me to shut up, then I mutter myself to bad-tempered sleep. And then I’m up again at 3 for some intimate Melvin time. Glamourous being a writer, innit?
Sarah Naughton is the author of two books for young adults: Costa shortlisted The Hanged Man Rises, about possession and child murder in Victorian London: and The Blood List, featuring witches and changelings and a very nasty little brother. She lives in London with her husband and two sons. You can find out what she’s up to on her blog, or follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.