I have been asked a lot since I’ve started the adventure of ‘properly working full time’ what my average day looks like. Well, to answer that, I need to give you two answers: the ideal situation and the realistic situation.
We’ll start as we mean to go on, and so, first of all, here is my ideal day.
Get up before or at this time, because it means I’m not getting up and immediately sitting down to work. Get dressed – because it’s important to feel like you’re ‘going to work’ even when all you’re doing is walking into the next room.
Normally what I do is sit around reading emails, Facebook/Twitter notifications, catching up on Slack and Discord, and generally dithering for an hour or so.
One of my most productive points is in the mid to late morning, and so the very first thing I do in a day work wise is writing.
This writing session is intended to be exclusively novel work. That work can be actually writing words, or planning, or researching, or editing. Anything that involves working on the writing of a novel.
On my best days, I can sit down and start writing and write solidly for the entire two hours, then have to peel myself away from the document. Most days where I manage to get writing done, it’s more like 60-90 minutes of solid work with a bunch either side where I’m getting into/out of the zone.
This might not seem like a lot of time devoted to writing. I do this five days a week though, and it works for me. At this pace and the pace that I write, it takes me about 18 months to produce a novel. That’s pretty fast, and it’s a pace that I’m happy with.
It would be possible to push myself to write more, but I don’t think I’d write as well if I did that. I’d rather write at this place, steadily, and write better.
This next hour varies depending on what day of the week it is. If it’s a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, I work on my blog for the day. If it’s a Tuesday, I do the weekly food shopping (oh, how exciting). If it’s a Thursday, I work on pieces for submission or submitting said pieces.
It doesn’t generally take me an hour to write, edit and publish a blog post, unless I’ve settled in for one of those longer ones. So this hour can sometimes also involve me having a bit of a break as well, if I’ve whipped through things quickly. On the other hand, I can also sometimes run over if I write a super long post, or one that involves a lot of research.
The Thursday session can be about writing or editing on submission pieces, but more often than not it’s researching places to submit on Duotrope, looking at competitions, scanning through things to see if I even get any ideas for writing submissions.
With that done, I move onto the most joyous and longed-for task of my entire day: working on social media accounts.
I kid, but only partially. Social media is one of the hardest parts of my job. I sometimes have days where I can’t think of anything to say or anything I say just comes out sounding stilted and awful.
But we’re talking about an ideal day, so on an idea day, I queue my scheduled tweets and Facebook posts for the day. These are the ones you see at 1pm and 7pm (GMT). Secret truth: any time you see me post outside of that time, it’s a manual/non-scheduled post. If it’s a Friday, I also queue the posts for Saturday and Sunday, so this hour is a bit more intense then.
I have a schedule within my posts, so generally I have an idea of what I’m posting for at least some of the day – things like announcing a new blog, or Patreon post, or doing the weekly roundup.
Sometimes this takes the whole hour, sometimes it takes 15 minutes. It mostly depends how many ideas I have and how much time I spend staring helplessly at the screen.
Lunchtime! I don’t think I need to explain what a lunch break is.
For half an hour a day, I tidy and clean the house.
Yes, this is in my ideal day. The reason it’s in my ideal day is that, as I’ve talked about before, my mental health is significantly improved by being in a clean and tidy space. However, I also find making myself clean to be awful.
So I do half an hour a day, every day, and I generally find that helps me keep on top of it. I also have a list of the tasks I need to do cleaning wise each week in my Bullet Journal, which means I know what needs doing and can slowly work through them each day.
For this next hour, I have a bit more of a free working time – one that falls into a few categories. In this hour I work on any Patreon tasks, or on Twitch, or on roleplaying events if I’m running them.
I count the latter in my professional time because whilst I’m not being paid for it in the same sort of way, it’s all development of the skills I use as a writer. I try and make it only time to work on events I’m running, but I’m not going to lie, I’ve been doing my singing practice in this hour too. Shh.
The final portion of my day is spent working on my other jobs, all of which are under NDA and as such I can’t actually tell you what I do exactly in this portion of the day. Doesn’t that sound fancy?
I’m a bit more flexible with myself in this hour and a half, too. If I’m flagging with concentration – even on an ‘ideal’ day, I stop. At this point I’ve done a lot of hours of work and it’s okay for my brain or body to have decided that’s enough.
So this is what I aim for. It’s my ideal. I will tell you now that, 9 days out of 10, I don’t achieve this. But the habit and structure of it is important; it means that I can get up each day knowing what the day includes. It means that even if I only do a portion of this, I’ve achieved a lot more than I would have done without this ideal schedule.
If you enjoyed this post and want to see more, check out the Writing & Reading category for more articles about my experience as a self-published author, tips and tricks and more.