A Day in the Life of a Writer

Mar 8, 2011Write!

Well, here’s the skinny. Every day is different for the life of a writer. But for the sake of answering this blog post, here is one of my days, ripped from the headlines of last week, Friday to be exact.

6:45 AM: I wake up and pull on my running clothes, determined to get back to exercise after a nearly monthlong bout with illness.

7:15 AM: But before I do, I run around the house, picking things up, folding clothes, making my bed. Then I take my eldest two to school.

7:45 AM: I nearly cry at the gas pump when I fill the tank. I secretly wish for an electric car as the dollar signs spin wildly.

7:56 AM: Home now, I’m checking my emails briefly, printing off one of my Paypal sales (an autographed copy of Thin Places).

7:58 AM: I tweet this: The 75 minutes I wanted to be famous: http://bit.ly/fI6ZW3

8:00 AM: Time to take my run.

8:30 AM: I didn’t die on my run, nor did Pippin the wonder dog. This makes me happy. I make a smoothie (2 cups plain nonfat yogurt, a handful of frozen berries, 1 frozen banana) and drink it while I read Exodus. (I wonder if Moses knew that someday a forty-something woman would be sitting on a bed in the suburbs of North America drinking a smoothie and reading his words.)

9:00 AM: Shower and get ready.

9:30 AM: Go over royalty/advance reports from publisher and try not to get depressed. Give myself a pep talk: Remember, it’s all about influence. Remember that email you got last night that touted your influence in someone’s life? Remember that. Numbers aren’t people. People aren’t numbers. Be faithful in your calling. Do what God’s called you to do. Be faithful in little. Leave all the results in God’s hands. Rest, Mary.

9:45 AM: Take care of sundry business items. Send a book to a girl in Mobile, Alabama via Click and Ship. Read and respond to some emails. Remind my husband of an appointment we’ll both have with a potential ministry/writing project.

9:56 AM, tweeted: On my run today as I noticed a few trees with brilliant white flowers, the Lord seemed to say, “It’s time. Anticipate spring.” I’ve felt in the winter in my career for longer than a season, so I’m praying first that I would find contentment in Jesus, and that I’d be open to new life and new things this year. It’s time to shed the past, the worry, the difficulties, and look ever forward. It reminds me of my favorite Oswald Chambers quote, “Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ, and go out into the irresistible future with Him.”

10:00 AM–12:00 PM: work on my latest book (self published!) 11 Secrets to Getting Published. I’m so excited to release this book soon, with all my wisdom from Wannabepublished. George at Tekeme Studios did an amazing job on the front and back cover! I hope to release it this month, Lord willing.

10:32 AM tweeted a quote I found while working on the book: One writes to make a home for oneself, on paper, in time and in others’ minds. Alfred Kazin

11:30 AM: Joyfully interrupted by my friend Stacie Ruth who always calls in the most opportune times to pray for me. She is lovely! God uses her to remind me that He is mindful of me. She prayed for my incessant ear ache, that ministry lunch, and the current book I’m writing about my father. As we talked, I folded laundry.

11:43 AM. While still plugging away at the 11 Secrets book, I answer an email from a conference coordinator about what topics I teach (to writers). I unearthed my topics while I was rewriting a section of my book about nonfiction book writing. I also texted my agent because we have three specific things to talk about. Looking forward to our chat sometime soon.

12:00–12:35 PM: Great talk with my agent. I love that she calls me and we can strategize together. She keeps me joyful and pragmatic.

12:35–1:00 PM: Lunch: grilled cheese sandwich on Ezekiel bread, 1 mango. Yum. For a few minutes, I indulge in HGTV. (By the way, if you like design, I highly recommend HGTV’s blog Design Happens.)

1:00 PM: Photo shoot with authors Kurt and Olivia Bruner. They needed some promo pictures, and I’m taking photos to raise money for my son Aidan to go to Ghana. Spent time formatting and sending them the best shots.

2:00–2:30 PM: Finish up my edits (for the day) for 11 Secrets. Eat a small bar of Moser Roth orange & almond. (I’m thankful to find them at Aldi). There are five mini-bars in each one and they’re dark chocolate. Yum.

2:30–3:00 PM: Dinked around a bit with email, then visited https://www.createspace.com/ per Ashley Weis‘ suggestion. I’m trying to figure out the best way to publish the book, and since I speak at conferences, it would be good to have a physical book to sell. I also bought 10 ISBNs here today.

3:00–3:30 PM: researching for a 365-day devotional I’d like to write. Trying to find something similar to an idea hubby Patrick brought up last night. It’s genius! And, thankfully, so far there is NOTHING like what I’d like to write. Feeling happy about that. I’ve long felt that I’d like to write something timeless/deep/compelling that brings people to the heart of Jesus.

3:30–4:00 PM, more research on publishing options led me to http://www.thedominoproject.com/about This is Seth Godin’s new publishing entity. I also paid a bill to a web flash person who worked on http://www.thewritingspa.com.

4:00–4:30 PM. Julia arrives home with a smile on her sweet face. I love that girl. She’ll be our only one home tonight, as one is at a choir festival and the other is with friends at a birthday party. I guess God is preparing us for that inevitable empty nest. I also take some time to answer an email from a reader:

Message Body:
> Hi. I am a self-published author with just one novel on the shelf, but am very
> interested in getting more out there. However, I am curious about trying to go
> through an agent to get more notice. Would you have any advice for me? Thanks
> so much.

My answer

Typically you have to work pretty hard to land an agent. This means writing the entire novel, creating a fiction proposal, researching which agents are accepting your genre, then querying them. I’ve found, though, that most authors secure their agents through relationship, meaning they attend a conference first. I highly recommend attending a conference where editors and agents are present. Typically you set up an appointment with one (or sit at their table), then pitch your idea.

The benefits of an agent are huge. They take your work and shop it to their existing relationships with publishers. They already have a foot in the door of the traditional publishing house. They negotiate on your behalf so you don’t have to be the bad guy in discussing money issues, etc. They earn their 15% and more by their negotiation. I know I have higher advances because of my agent.

Be sure the agents you research and meet are legitimate. There are a lot of scammers out there, unfortunately. You should never be charged by an agent for anything. They only get paid when they sell your book. You can check out agencies, agents and publishers at Predators and Editors: http://pred-ed.com/

The fact that you’ve published a book already can either be good or bad. If you’ve sold well, it can be very good. If not, then it actually might not even be worth it to mention you’ve done it. There is still a strong bias against self published books, unless they’ve sold thousands of copies.

I hope this helps!


4:30 PM: I’m calling it a day, thankfully. My silly ear infection continues to bother and annoy and tire me. I received a few books in the mail, one of which is research for a book I’m writing right now, so I think I’ll read it. Then I’ll make chicken marsala and risotto for dinner. Probably. (Update: I actually made hamburgers with caramelized onions and twice baked potatoes.)

I hope this helps you see what typically happens in a writer’s day.

Q4u: What does your writing day look like?