My writing day – Holly Martin

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By Holly Martin

As a full time writer I take my job very seriously. I leap out of bed at five in the morning and write two thousand words before the sun rises. I have a breakfast of fruit then go for an energising swim in the sea with my dog where I plan out my writing for the rest of the day. I come back home and drink a cucumber smoothie which helps to focus the mind. I write a thousand words and then attend a champagne lunch with my editor where we discuss the next book and eat quail eggs. I return home and write another three thousand words. I then spend two hours replying to all my fan mail, write another two thousand words, create an elaborate spreadsheet detailing everything I’ll write the next day before I eat a dinner of avocado soup. I write another five thousand words and then retire for the evening…♥

In reality my working day is nothing like this. In my rose-tinted view, my dream of writing full time looked quite a bit like this although without the cucumber smoothie and the excessively large word count. Although many people, when you tell them you write full time do imagine a glamorous life like this. But writing at home is as far removed from this as possible.

In reality, I crawl out of bed around seven thirty to take my dog for a swim before the local tourist steam train starts its service for the day because my dog is petrified of it. We do go swimming in the sea, which involves a lot of me cursing at how cold it is, trying not to think about how clean the water is and not really a lot of planning. I come home, eat a bowl of coco pops, reply to any tweets or Facebook comments, then scan through the rest of Facebook and Twitter to see what everyone else is up to. I research which fruits grow in May and watch a YouTube video about the making of Wallace and Gromit because my latest character is an animator and the story is set around a fruit farm.

I write for 15 minutes and although this doesn’t seem a lot this is something that really does help. To set myself a task of 2000 words a day, every day, seems quite daunting, but 15 minutes seems very doable. Short bursts of writing time, no editing, no internet, just writing for 15 minutes, most times at the end of the 15 minutes, I’m midway through a scene or a conversation and I’ll want to to keep writing so i do or its a good place to stop to come back to it next time. Normally I average around 350-400 words in those 15 minutes which again doesn’t seem like a lot but repeat that 4 or 5 times a day and I’d soon have my 2000 words.

The dog barking at a passing neighbour, cat, bird, car or a bit of fluff disturbs me and I stop to stroke and play with him and do the washing up. A quick dash up the road to get some milk as I ran out the day before and I need a cup of tea. Might get some of those fancy biscuits while I’m there, of course I’ll only have one… or five. I return home and write for another 15 minutes and then a lunch of a ham sandwich and maybe, probably, almost definitely a packet of wotsits or quavers. Another mug of tea, sort out the washing, check Facebook and Twitter, reply to an email to my editor, message my author friend about how crap I am as a writer that I can’t even remember the name of an inconsequential character I mentioned three chapters ago, she in turn will tell me about a character’s surname in her book that has changed three times.

I research about tide times and seasonal high tide floods for another scene in my book. By this time its mid afternoon and I’ve not even written a thousand words yet. I’m also starting to flag and wonder whether I should reward my hard work with a chapter of the latest book I’m reading but I don’t, I sit down in front of my computer to try to write another 15 minutes but because I never plan my stories, I stare at a blank screen and wonder what I should write next. I write a hundred words. These words are not good words and I know I’ll probably delete them later.

After 18 books I’ve realised that writing is sometimes like fighting against a strong current. Sometimes the words pour out of your fingers and I can’t type quick enough with the ideas flowing in my head and sometimes I struggle to write even a hundred words. It doesn’t matter whether I have no distractions, no internet, I’m fed, the scented candles are burning and the music is playing, the words just don’t come no matter how much I want them to. And that’s OK. There’s no point in beating myself up for it. As a writer there will always be good days and bad. And although it can often be an uphill struggle, I wouldn’t change this job for the world.

The dog wants another walk and I’m thankful to get out the house. I’ll come back and slave over a hot stove to make some beans on toast. Check Facebook and twitter again, reply to another email from my editor. Write a blog post or interview for a blogger. Research about cheese.

I return to my office and write for another 15 minutes. At this time of night, I write at my best, creatively I have lots of ideas and the distractions of social media are a minimum because people are watching TV or have gone to bed. I manage to reach around a 1500 word total for the day, most of these words are OK. I write a list of all the emails, and things I need to do the next day, stare out at the garden and decide that tomorrow, I really must mow the lawn. I read for half an hour and promise myself that tomorrow it will be different, tomorrow I will be focussed, I will write three thousand words. I then fall asleep, where I’ll dream of the perfect ending for the scene I’m writing and then forget it all by the time I wake up.

Holly Martin worked in a hotel and then as a teacher, before becoming a full-time writer. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition and was shortlisted for the New Talent Award, Best Romantic Read, Best Ebook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction awards at the Festival of Romance. She lives in a little white cottage by the sea. Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky is out 2 November.

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