I’m a daydreamer. Maybe that’s why I love to write and became a writer. It doesn’t matter where I am — in bed, on the train to work, out for a run, anywhere — I can slip into a daydream the way some people can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. I get lost in them, and when I’m forced back to reality, I come away breathless and slightly unhinged.
As a daydreamer, I often have grand visions of how my day should unfold, which often stands in stark contrast to reality. As A.S. Akkalon and Gregory Josephs have done in similar posts, today I thought I’d share a day in my writing life — how I envision it versus what actually happens.
05:00 – Alarm (Sam Smith’s “Stay with Me”) Goes Off
I reach for my glasses, put them on and then bounce out of the bed. I shower, dress and then make a strong cup of coffee using my stove-top espresso maker.
I wish I had to, but I don’t need to set an alarm. I’m a light sleeper and a morning person. Because of the irregular hours associated with my day job (I’m a flight attendant), I can wake up naturally any time between 3:00 and 06:30. Some days I like to pretend I’m “normal” and sleep in a little longer. Fifteen minutes later though, I’m usually up and at it. And that coffee … Well, back in October 2016, I gave up caffeine and my morning java (decaffeinated) doesn’t offer much of a kick.
05:35 – 10:00 – At My Desk Writing
With my coffee in hand, I start my day writing my Morning Pages, which takes about twenty minutes. Then I move on to the rewrite of a novel, my main writing project. I put in close to four and a half solid hours of writing and feel really good about the day.
I make the mistake (I do it almost every morning; it’s a habit I struggle to kick) of picking up my cell phone when I get up. So my phone ends up on my desk, and checking e-mail or Twitter can mean that it takes up to an hour to complete my Morning Pages. At the same time, I’m going through a mental list of things I need to do, and instead of writing them down to do later I tackle them in between sentences. I think I’m multitasking, but I’m not.
Then at 07:00 my partner’s alarm goes off. He emerges from the bedroom and turns on the TV to watch Breakfast Television. It’s another distraction I don’t need. When he goes to shower, I hit the mute button and then try to focus. Forty minutes later, he’s out of the bathroom and the TV volume is on again. As much as I love him dearly, I can’t wait to turn off the TV as soon as he’s out the door.
10:00 – 10:30 – Social Media Time
I allow myself thirty minutes to check Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. I respond to the most important items and then return to writing. I am strict about this time allotment and don’t surpass it.
I use the Google Extension StayFocusd to limit my time on social media and news sites. Between 00:00 and 16:00, I allow myself fifty-five minutes on these sites. Most days, that’s more than enough time. But I like to check CNN and end up captivated (or dumbfounded) by what’s happening in Washington, DC. Although I’m not American, it certainly is entertaining and a distraction I try to fight every day.
12:00 – 14:00 – Run and Lunch
I get out for a nice, ten-kilometre run. Afterwards, I cool down at home, have lunch and shower again. I feel energized after the run and feel like I’m on top of the world.
I run, but it’s only four or five kilometres. And it’s been a struggle since February when I caught a cold and haven’t stopped coughing since. I thought the cough would go away on its own but it hasn’t. In mid-April, I finally decided to make an appointment to see my family doctor. Given the strain on our healthcare system, it’s no surprise that I can’t see him until the end of May. After a run, if there aren’t leftovers in the house, I can’t decide what to eat. So I go back online, using up my precious and limited social media time. Or I’ll start laundry and put on one of the Jason Bourne movies that I have saved in our PVR.
14:00 – 17:30 – Dinner Prep
I’m organized, so the day before I went to the butcher and grocery store to pick up everything I’d need to make dinner. I begin the prep work for one of Julia Child’s or Martha Stewart’s elaborate recipes.
This is probably the one part of the day that I don’t really fudge with, unless I’m on a roll writing. I love to cook, and I frequently turn to Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking for inspiration and guidance. When I’m not working the day job, I do spend between three to four hours preparing dinner — and trying to pass off venison and elk as beef, or guinea fowl and partridge as chicken to my partner. I love food and love to eat well. If I left the cooking to my partner, we’d be eating Rice-A-Roni, Lean Cuisine and anything else you can simply take out of a box and add water to.
17:30 – 18:00 – Dinner
My partner and I sit down at our dining room table and enjoy our dinner with a nice glass of wine.
Dining room table? Have you seen the size of condos here in Toronto? A lot of them you can barely turn around in without hitting each other. We don’t have a dining room table, or room for one for that matter. We sit on the sofa and eat dinner, watching City News at the same time.
18:00 – 19:00 – Break Time
While my partner cleans up the kitchen (I cook, he cleans!), I sip my wine and watch the news or read.
Here, the vision is pretty much reality. If I’ve had a productive day of writing, I may do a little more work. Or I may schedule a few tweets. But I usually do take it pretty easy during this time.
19:00 – 20:00 – Reading Time
I pull out my kindle, or one of the many paperbacks strewn across the condo, and read. It’s a time for me to catch up on what other indie authors are writing, read more on creativity and marketing, or finally get through a few issues of my GQ subscription.
At 18:59, my partner and I battle for the TV remote. He wants to watch Entertainment Tonight, I want to put Murder, She Wrote on in the background. He wins. I’m trying to read but it’s so hard when Nancy O’Dell and Kevin Frazier are bringing you the latest exploits of the Kardashians. And really, I don’t care about the Kardashians, but I’m fascinated as to why so many people are. I probably only read a paragraph during the half-hour show and can’t remember what I’ve read. Why do we even care? I ask myself repeatedly about the reports on Abby Lee Miller’s fraud case, Mama June’s weight loss or the worst dressed at the Oscars. And the fact that I can easily call up some of these “celebrity names” scares me just a little. Actually, it scares me a lot.
20:00 – 20:30 – Cool Down
I put all my electronic gadgets away, turn off the TV and meditate before bed.
The TV’s still on, and I’m flipping from channel to channel for something mindless to watch. There’s not much that I’m interested in, so I draw again from the recordings of our PVR and pt on an episode of “Three’s Company.” And I don’t meditate.
20:30 – Lights Out
I brush my teeth, crawl into bed and fall fast asleep.
I brush my teeth, crawl into bed, and toss and turn. It takes me forever to fall asleep because I can’t drown out all those unnameable night noises. But eventually I drift off to sleep, waking up often as those same unnameable night noises poke at me.
Life is a journey. I may not always live out the day as I envision it, but each day I step up to put my best foot forward. That’s all I can ask of myself. I remind myself that whether I write 1,500 words in a day or simply one sentence, it’s still progress.
Never give up. As Henry David Thoreau reminds us: “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Does your day unfold the way you envision it? Are there distractions like social media that derail your efforts? Let me know in the comments section below how you stay on track.
Gregory Josephs says
I love that you devote so much time out of your day to cooking. In my ideal world I’d be the exact same way, but my husband and I only get to have dinner together twice a week because of my schedule, so I try to limit my kitchen time on those days. I’ll sometimes get involved in an elaborate cooking project during the week, but only if it’s something that’ll reheat well so he can pop it in the microwave when he’s at home in the evening.
We cancelled cable when we moved into our condo two years ago, so I don’t get CNN anymore, but NPR is my rabbit hole. I sometimes need to force myself to turn it off because I get so sucked into the horror film that is the current state of our politics. I’ve always had a little Canada envy (blame my love-affair with all things North) but never more so than now! Ugh. Be happy you’ve got that big lake (and an entirely different government) as a buffer between you and the madness!
Thanks for linking to my post, and I’m glad you participated. This is a fun one.
Cooking is a great release for me towards the end of the day. I actually start before my partner gets home from work, so the prep is usually done and all I have to do is cooking closer to the time we want to eat.
Before I met my partner, I didn’t have cable. Four glorious years without it. I missed it and I didn’t. Not having cable meant that one potential time-consuming distraction wasn’t available. Now, with social media, there are just so many distractions that I just have to learn to master instead of letting them dominate me.
I really liked the idea of looking at my day – how I perceive it and how it actually is. It was a fun exercise and helped me to see what bad habits I still need to exorcise from my life.
Take care, and I hope the rest of the week goes well!
What an amazing schedule! So glad you fit in creative time.
I believe it’s important to make time for the things we love, to always do what matters most.
A.S. Akkalon says
Great post! Thanks for taking up the challenge.
I laughed when I came to the part about the dining table. My husband and I have a dining table, but we still sit on the couch to eat. It sounds like you manage to carve out a good amount of creative time even in the “reality” version of your day. Shame about the meditation, though. 😉
I’ll link here from my post.
Thanks again. It was really interesting to see how I actually spend my day instead of how it sometimes plays out in my head.
I do try to make the best of my days off; my day job does at time make it difficult to write when I’m flying through time zones and feeling like I’m “losing” an entire day.
Every couple of months I try meditation but for some reason I have a block. I can quiet my mind, turn it completely off … there’s just something about sitting down to meditate that makes me … the word that comes to mind is uncomfortable.
I’ll keep trying, though!