Welcome to Luxuread’s new monthly series, My Writing Routine. As Australia's best-loved book subscription box, in this series, we’ll be talking to authors and writers from around the world to find out more about how and where they write, and the tips and techniques they use that helped land them with that all-important book deal.
Discussing everything from why a studio in her back garden would be her ideal writing spot, to Allee's non-negotiables when it comes to writing, read on to find out more about what a typical day of writing looks like for Allee Richards, author of Small Joys of Real Life, which you can find in September’s Luxuread book box.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I start the day reading in bed for an hour with a coffee. Then I’ll move to my desk and write for three-to-four hours, stopping once to make breakfast which I eat at my desk. In the afternoons I do my life things – groceries, exercise, cleaning – then I leave for work in the evening.
Where do you write from?
I have a study at home that I share with my partner. Our desks face opposite walls and we work with our backs to one another. The wall I face is covered with cards that have notes on my manuscript. If I’m stuck, I grab a card.
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to writing?
Only that I’m not burnt out from doing too much. I like working in small blocks frequently, rather than trying to bash out a novel in a month. I don’t like pulling eight hour writing days. As long as I’ve got time to reach my deadlines at my own pace, I can deal with anything else – no laptop, I’ll use a pen. If I’m working a lot at my job, I can carry my laptop and work in the tea-room or the staff cafeteria. Being precious about the perfect conditions allows much space for procrastination to thrive.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
Six years, which is how long it is that I’ve been working in the performing arts. The reason I’ve stuck at a career that requires me to work evenings and on weekends is because it gives me so much time to write during the day.
How has the way you write changed over the past few years?
Before I started working in theatre I had a full-time desk job and my routine was very different. I could only manage a couple of hours writing a week, usually on evenings after work and on Saturdays. Over that time I wrote long-hand in a journal, as I couldn’t handle more screen time than I already got at work. I was miserable, unproductive and unfit.
Do you have any tips or techniques you can share that make writing easier?
I’ve found breaking the job down into small pieces helps. The thought of writing an entire novel is overwhelming, but writing 1500 words is doable. Keep showing up to your desk and chipping away. Fifty times 1500 equals a novel draft. The same with editing. Editing an entire manuscript is arduous, but 10 000 words can probably be done in a day. Break it down into small parts and continue to show up. Procrastinating and leaving things until later only makes them harder when you do get around to them.
Where would your dream writing spot be?
I would love to have my own studio in my back garden with a big window, built-in bookshelves and a couch for reading. When I need a break I could step out the door and tend to my plants.
On the days you’re not at home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I’ve written at work, on public transport, on flights, in cafes, in libraries, on friend’s couches, at my parent’s house when I’m visiting, at my sister’s house while my niece is asleep. I’m not precious about my circumstances, I just do the work whenever I get a chance.