What Do You Do All Day, Anyway?

Writing is more than sitting around drinking fancy coffees. It's also a lot of work.
Writing is more than sitting around drinking fancy coffees. It’s also a lot of work.

One of the perils of working from home is the misguided assumptions from others that my day is more about “home” and less about the “work” part. The number of times I’ve heard from other parents, “Oh, you must be glad the kids are back at school so you can rest.” Um, no. I’m glad the kids are back at school so I can work.

And while I’m glad to be only a mostly-full-time writer, in order to balance other things like providing my own afterschool care for my kids, looking after them when they’re sick, spending time cooking healthy meals, and helping out with the occasional school event or field trip, (not to mention dealing with my own personal issues and errands) I still average about five hours a day on writing-related activities (more if I’m on deadline).

Notice I said “writing-related activities” and not just writing. Because while writing is a large part of what I do, it’s not the only thing covered by the job description “writer.” So here’s a handy-dandy list of some of the things I do during my work day:

  1. Writing – That one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but I spend less time on it than you’d think. I’ve just started on my first new novel draft in over two years, and, generally speaking, I draft quickly, completing the first version of a manuscript in about one month. Because I need a first draft in order to start:
  2. Revising – For me, this is where the magic happens. Where I turn the bare bones of a story into something worth reading. This step can take me up to a year or more, and involves writing, re-writing, and getting input from critique partners on how improve my work. Then once it’s done I hand it in to Bri and start the whole revision process over with her input.
  3.  Critiquing – When I’m revising with critique partners I spend about a hour a day working on other people’s stories. I belong to two official critique groups (one in-person, and one online), plus I have a few writer-friends I occasionally trade stories with informally. And let me tell you – the more I critique, the more I learn, so this is definitely time well spent. (Plus, it’s really cool to find your name in the acknowledgements section of your friends’ books.)
  4.  Social Media – Nowadays it’s not enough to be just a writer, you also have to have a social media presence to help market yourself. And that doesn’t come without an investment of time. My current schedule calls for me to post once a week here, twice a week on my author Facebook page, and five days a week on Twitter (I definitely fell off that wagon over the summer, don’t tell my agent!). Even then, it’s not just about simply banging out a post, but also about finding or taking a photo to go with it (which for my Facebook page often involves baking something to photograph), interacting with other people, reading other people’s blogs, posts and tweets…social media could be a full time job all on its own (and I’m not even on Pinterest yet), and it’s only one part of my daily routine.
  5.  Research – sure, I’m mostly writing contemporary fiction these days, but it doesn’t mean I don’t need to research. From psychological conditions to pop culture references to just figuring out what names are appropriate for my characters and their friends, it sometimes feels like I spend most of my days roaming the internet for reliable info.
  6.  Writer Stuff – all right, that sounds kind of vague, but I’m not sure how else to label all the things like learning about the craft of writing, keeping track of trends and new industry developments, networking with other writers, not to mention all the time and energy that goes into marketing.

So there you have it, how I spend my work days. And that doesn’t even count the things I do after hours, like read to keep current with the market, or attend conferences and critique meetings. Working as a writer is just that: work – not the glorified vacation that some people seem to think.



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