My perfect writing day


Woolf’s writing hut


There’s a fascinating discussion going on at She Writes about what constitutes the perfect writing day.

Here’s mine.

I wake up having had enough sleep. This is important – if I’ve had one of those nights where it feels as if the world’s traffic has been using my brain as a concourse I can forget about writing.

The day will be with one with nothing else in it. The ‘to do’ list I revise each evening and leave for myself in the centre of my desk will have one word on it: writing.

Tea (strong, with a little milk), a bowl of high-energy cereal, then a brief venture outside. I walk the few steps to the garden gate and peer over it. Two giant Ash trees grow opposite and I watch them for a moment, thinking how Virginia Woolf described taking ideas to her writing hut each morning like a delicately balanced basket of eggs.

If whatever I am writing is already well advanced I start as soon as I get to my desk. If it isn’t – if I am still feeling my way in to the characters and their story – then the process of beginning takes longer. Sometimes all I achieve are notes.

I force myself to exercise at the end of the morning: yoga, aerobics, if the weather is good a walk or run. My reward is lunch which I eat listening to the words in my head, outside if I can.

Unlike most writers I know, I always do my best work in the afternoons, beginning about 2 and working through to 4 or sometimes 5. After this, no matter how well the writing is going, I come to a natural stop. I look forward to my son returning from school, to switching on email and letting the world flood in.

Oh, and my perfect writing day ends with the knowledge that tomorrow will be exactly the same.

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