Jonathan Stroud HOME
My Working Day

Two-thirds of my working year is spent in solitary confinement in my study, where I do all my writing. When in the middle of a book, I’ll aim to produce about 20 pages per week.

9.30am Arrive at office. Various delaying tactics, including emails, cups of tea, scratching chin, staring slack-jawed out of window etc.

10.00am Manuscript sitting on desk catches eye. Last swig of tea. Take manuscript, sift through. Re-read yesterday’s work, making odd adjustment. Bring book up on computer, place cursor at end of last sentence and prepare for action.

10.23am Erase 15th attempt at first line of the day and go for cup of tea.

10.30am Revived. First line of the day is successfully written. Things begin to speed up.

11.00am Hitting stride. Best time of day for writing. Fingers whirring on the keys. Now all we need is no disturbance.

11.01am Phone rings. Answer it. Any of: a) my agent, (b) my publisher, (c) a bloke from Best Kitchens offering a free estimate for entire refitting in lovely stainless chrome. Am variously polite. Conversation ends. Disconnect phone from wall.

1pm Lunch. By now, on a good day, would have maybe 2-3 new A4 pages typed and printed. In any case lunch is long awaited, since have been subsisting on fruit and chocolate biscuits all morning and am starving. Eat lunch, read paper, nip to shops to post letters, check emails again.

1.30-2.00pm Back to work with cup of tea. Cup of tea is a good indicator of how well things are going. If writing well, will forget it entirely and leave it to go cold. Full cup with congealing milk = happy author.

2.00-4.00pm Dangerous times. Dog days of the afternoon. Worst time for writing: sleepy, comfortable, full of lunch. Biorhythms are low. A struggle; can only plough onwards fuelled by more biscuits.

4.00pm Biorhythms perk up. Hooray. Writing gets easier again. Hopefully homing in on the TARGET for day, which is 5 pages. Depending on current zest, will either (a) shoot past target contemptuously, heading for promised land of 6-7 pages, or (b) totter to the bottom of page 5, print it out without looking and run from the building. Other times won’t even make it that far.

5.00-5.30ish Average time for packing up. Sometimes finish up with letters/admin etc, but usually too knackered. It takes a while to come out of a created world: it’s like coming out of a swimming bath with water in your ears. But by 7.00 I’m usually back in the real world and happy to forget the book for the rest of the day.


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