A Day in the Life
by D.A. Serra
I am a big believer in a disciplined schedule. I thought this came from juggling a writing career, three kids, a dog, a house, and a husband – not in that order (sorry, honey). Oddly, now that my three kids are in college, and I have more flexibility, I still follow this same schedule – perhaps because it works, or perhaps because I’m just stubborn.
My husband is a morning person, you know those people: the ones who pop out of bed at some early ugly hour with a big smile on their face, and all you want to do is smack them? I wake up unsure what country I’m in. This blurry state is my best writing time – go figure. I go directly from sleep to computer open and words on the page, sometimes without leaving the bed. It is so easy for me to sink into a story when I’m just barely conscious and before my mind is battered by all the exigencies of the new day and it begins making lists in the background. (You all know those lists.) As the day wears on, and interruptions (more commonly known as life) begin to chip away at my concentration, I always look back, grateful I began the day early. I am simply not quite so grateful at that pre-caffeine moment.
I usually write for approximately six hours, five days a week. With this schedule, I was able to be a full-time writer and a full-time mother concurrently: a modern day miracle I will admit that it wasn’t easy. With gregarious twins, another child just two-years younger, and an arrogant Wheaten Terrier, I did run around for about eight years with my hair on fire. And, yes, I was that wild women darting through the grocery store at 10:30 at night.
I think time management is the most important skill a writer must master. Once writers are sure of where and when they work best, then it really is all about discipline. It means having to tell confused friends and persistent school teachers over-and-over “I’m working ” – since they do not get it, thinking because you’re home you must be available. Everyone else must be told regularly that while you’re home and you are indeed available at a second’s notice to any of your children, you are not available to them. I cannot even fathom how many times I have said “No, I can’t (fill in the blank) I am working then.” Then, of course, they find out you’re a writer and they become even more dubious.
So, my writing days are fairly disciplined and regular. When I was writing the thriller Primal I do recall one time when I tried to work at night. I couldn’t sleep and it sounded like an efficient idea. I suppose this would have worked if I had been writing a romance or comedy, but for this particular thriller about a mom, a mom just like me, sinking into my imagination at 3:00 a.m. in the darkened house was, well, it was so quiet I heard the noise of our back door being slowly, carefully, opened, and I saw the single black shadow skirt across the wall towards me — right, I scared myself.
As a novelist now, my writing days are easier since I no longer have the same immutable deadlines notorious in the TV world, and also my children are older. Nevertheless, my schedule remains fairly unaltered: start work immediately, drink copious amounts of coffee, work straight through to around 2:00 p.m. and then go do the rest of life.
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Genre – Thriller
Rating – R