Michelle Harrison ? A day in my life
8.30am ~ Alarm. Ignore.
9.00-9.30am ~ Wake up. (Yes, really. I am not a morning person. I’ve been known to cry when forced to get up, but admittedly that was to go to school.) Remove cats: one from my feet and the other from my head. Force myself out of bed and get ready. Feed cats, feed self. This, endless cups of tea, and making dinner later on, are usually the only consistent parts of my day.
10.00am-1.00pm ~ Work.
There’s no average day when it comes to work, it all depends on where I am in a book’s schedule and the variation is part of the appeal. The past few weeks and those ahead have been dedicated to promoting my next book, Unrest. This has meant shooting promo videos, writing newsletters and updating my website, as well as guest posts, numerous Q&As and even compiling an Unrest play list. When you’re used to writing about other people, especially ones you made up, writing about yourself can feel a little weird.
I try to tackle at least part of my email in the morning. Anything from my publishers or agent is a priority (although I am terrible for checking email throughout the day on my phone. This must stop). I clear stuff that’s urgent and congratulate myself, then hear the postman knock. I sign for one envelope containing train tickets and an itinerary for next week’s tour. I think of the early mornings and shudder. The second envelope is full of reader mail. I think of my cleared emails and try to sigh and feel all busy and overwhelmed but secretly I’m pleased. I love hearing from readers.
1.00pm-1.30pm ~ Lunch. Check Facebook, Twitter, and comments on my website guestbook. You didn’t actually believe that this is for the first time today, though, did you? I’ve already checked them at least twice while I was supposed to be working.
1.30pm-5.00pm ~ More work.
Being self-employed occasionally involves tedious things like sorting out paperwork for my accountant. I try to keep on top of it by shoving all my receipts and income advice into an envelope as I receive them. Hating numbers as I do it’s the worst part of my job, even though someone else does it for me. If there’s one thing that can ruffle me it’s an email from my accountant prodding me for stuff I should have sent weeks ago – even gathering the material is enough to give me a headache.
If I’m writing – which I will be in a couple of weeks when I start my new book – then I tend to write for long periods at a time. I don’t write every day, and nor do I think I should. It might work best for some people but not for me. I enjoy the space that editing and promoting brings and I find it important. It’s like closure on the last book, and it’s also thinking time in which my new ideas and characters can brew until they’re ready to make an appearance on the page.
I write in the same way as I read, which is not particularly fast. Up until now I’ve generally aimed for a thousand words per day, minimum. However, I cut over 20,000 from my last manuscript, and so for the next book I want to focus on getting a scene written rather than a specific word count as it’s easy to get hung up on and not all of those words are actually moving the story forward. If my deadline is creeping closer then I’ll write as much as possible, so I’m often still tapping away at midnight (hence the late morning starts).
Once I’ve got a decent amount of writing done, and after repeated removal of cats from my keyboard and manuscript, I’ll return to answering emails, this time from readers. Usually, I’ll end up carrying on with this later into the evening. At 5.00pm I’m thinking about putting dinner on when my phone bleeps a reminder that I need to put out a ‘Teaser Tuesday’: a weekly short excerpt from my book to give readers a taste of what Unrest is about. I’m still skimming pages fifteen minutes later when my hungry boyfriend arrives home from work to find me apparently reading, amidst protestations that, actually, yes, I have been working . . .