A Typical Day – Linda Stratmann
Recently I was asked to describe a typical working day as a writer. Years ago when I worked in an office I knew exactly what a typical day was – I went to the same place five days a week, and did the same tasks in the company of the same people then I went home. The more I thought about it and tried to answer the question, the more I realised that one of the great joys of being a working writer is that there is no such thing as a typical day. First of all, even allowing for deadlines, I am so much more in control of my time. As long as the job is done, it doesn’t matter when, or for that matter where I do it. Sometimes I work at home, but I might go out and spend a day in the archives – my choice of day, of course – and I also deliver talks, which involves travelling to new places and meeting new people. Social functions and conferences while not productive work in themselves, (although no end of writing goes on in trains and hotel rooms) are an essential part of what a writer does, making new contacts, meeting established contacts, seeing and being seen, and putting names to faces. The writing itself may be a solitary occupation, but that social interaction with other writers, editors, publishers, and of course readers is vital, as well as being a lot of fun!
Even when simply at home, I may not spend all or even any of my time writing. Writing is my main aim of course, but I might be brewing up a plot, perhaps thinking about it as I do my laundry or cook dinner, or pop down to the local shops. The recent increase in availability of online research sources means that a lot of work I might have had to do away from home such as family history research, or examining historical newspapers, can now be done without leaving the house.
When I think about the non-writing things I do each day; organising trips, putting together talks and powerpoint presentations, my work for the CWA, producing promotional material, dealing with correspondence; I sometimes wonder where I find time for the actual writing. The answer I suppose is that a typical day is a very long one. It starts at about 7am when I look at my emails, and ends when I realise I am too tired to do anything useful. A day at the archives which involves intense concentration and staring at print or hard to decipher writing, and I am pretty much done in by 4pm! On other days it is hard to resist doing that last little bit that needs to be done quite late at night. And of course there is no such thing as a five-day working week. A writer is always writing in some little place in the head. It never stops.
Linda has a virtually life-long interest in true crime, and a large collection of books on the subject. Read more on her CRA profile including links to her books.