S.G. Browne

A Day in the Write

I wrote some words today, oh boy
One thousand nouns and verbs and adjectives
And though the words were rather small
I got to count them all…

(With apologies to John Lennon and The Beatles.)

I’ve been asked about what it’s like to be a writer, how I spend my days, what my schedule and my process is like.

This is usually met with me saying something like:  “Schedule?  Process?  I’m supposed to have those?”

In an ideal universe, I would wake up at 6:00am every morning to the chorus of garbage trucks serenading me outside my apartment, feed my two cats, meditate for half an hour, grab a banana and a hard boiled egg and some Trader Joe’s Green Plant juice, then sit down at my laptop on my couch for four to six hours writing anywhere from 1000-1500 words.  Which is really all I can manage in a day.  Anything more and my brain gets fried.  Apparently other writers can pump out 3000-4000 words a day in the same amount of time.

I hate them.

My four hours of writing would be followed by an early lunch where I would sneak in half an hour of reading something either for pleasure or for professional reasons (I’m currently reading Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby).  Then I  would spend an hour or two answering e-mails and doing the Facebook and Twitter thing and, depending on the day, posting to my blog.  And just for the record, it takes me at least an hour to write a blog post.  Sometimes two hours.  It just does.

The rest of the afternoon would consist of taking an hour bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge or a walk through the hills of Pacific Heights and, if the weather is nice, enjoying the day outside.  Then some more reading for pleasure, some dinner with friends, maybe a movie, a couple more hours of writing or updating my web page or answering e-mails, and then sleep.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it always happens.  Here’s something a little closer to the truth:

I wake up without an alarm around 6:00am every morning, sometimes with help from the garbage trucks, sometimes to the sound of a hairball getting coughed up.  After wondering if I can manage to milk anymore sleep out of the morning, I get up around 6:30am, feed my cats, clean their litter box, and, if it’s nice enough out, I’ll take a bike ride or go for a walk because I know come the afternoon I’ll be too lazy to do so and will probably end up taking a nap instead.  Plus it gets windy in the afternoon and I don’t want to have to navigate my way through the tourists who manage to take up the entire pedestrian/bike pathway.

So by the time I get done with my bike ride, it’s after 8:00am.  Once I’ve showered and eaten breakfast and read for longer than I should, it’s 9:00am.  Breaking rule #1, #4, and #7 of my Ten Commandments for Writers, I check my e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter accounts first and get sucked into them for at least an hour.  Often longer.  This usually involves me rationalizing that I’ve just moved my schedule around and am taking care of this part first.

It’s now 11:00am and I should have finished my four hours of writing at this point but instead I’ve written nothing.  So I finally start writing but around 1:00pm I’m now hungry for lunch.  An hour later, after perusing my latest issue of TIME or Entertainment Weekly because I don’t watch the news or much television, I sit back down at my laptop and by 5:00pm, if I’m lucky, I’ve pushed out 1000 words.

I say if I’m lucky because I’ve likely been distracted by beeps on my cell phone telling me I have e-mail messages or text messages or voice mail and, like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I have to check to see who it is.  I should really put it on silent mode.  Distractions are a daily part of my routine.

It’s also possible that I’ve gone outside to enjoy the rest of the afternoon because my windows are southern facing and my apartment is always warm and I’m perpetually in a state of summer and I want to go outside and drink Coronas at the beach.

Plus, I spend my eight-hour workday in my apartment with no one to talk to but my two cats, who don’t have an extensive vocabulary and never laugh at any of my jokes.  I need some human interaction.  I also need to go grocery shopping and check my P.O. box and try to get in thirty minutes of tai chi.

So by the time I’ve taken care of all of that and I’ve had dinner and fed my cats and watered my plants and cleaned my kitchen (because I haven’t done that in a while), it’s now 9:00pm and I realize I haven’t checked the latest sports updates on ESPN.com.  Which gets me sucked into Facebook and Twitter again.  And suddenly it’s 11:00pm and time to go to bed.

And it all starts over the next morning, be it Monday, Thursday, or Saturday.  Sometimes with the garbage trucks.  Sometimes with a hairball I have to clean up.  Sometimes with rain instead of sunshine.  Sometimes I have lunch with a friend.  Sometimes I watch a movie on Netflix.  Sometimes I volunteer at my local animal shelter.  Sometimes I head down to the beach to watch the sunset.  Sometimes I go visit my mom or my dad.

Perhaps not as glamorous as you might have imagined, but at least I don’t have to deal with commuting or putting on pants or navigating office politics.  And one way or another, more often than not, I get my 1000 words written.

Even if some of them are rather small.

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Filed under: The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 8:38 am

3 Comments »

  1. I think I have lifestyle envy. (except for the hairballs)

    Comment by Helen — March 9, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  2. Scott. I can see it in my head. I’m glad I’m not the only one with best intentions.

    -Wes

    Comment by Weston Ochse — March 9, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  3. Yes. And it’s now 10:36am and I haven’t fired up my laptop to start writing. See how things spiral out of control?

    Comment by admin — March 9, 2011 @ 10:37 am

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