Welcome to Luxuread’s new monthly series, My Writing Routine. 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 distractions to why a cosy pub would be her dream writing spot, read on to find out more about what a typical day of writing looks like for Katherine Faulkner, author of Greenwich Park, which you can find in May’s Luxuread box.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
I have two daughters aged one and three, so the early morning - from around six - is hectic, getting them both up, dressed, fed and off to nursery. I'll try and grab myself some breakfast in the process, but I'm not always successful! Once I’ve dropped them off, at around 8.30, I can relax. I always really enjoy the walk home from the nursery, especially in good weather. I’ll sometimes grab a takeaway coffee, think about the day ahead and try and get into the right headspace for a day of writing.
I deal with emails first, try not to get distracted by BBC news or MailOnline, and then – if I don’t have anything else urgent to do, such as meetings or marketing stuff - I write from about 10am until 4.30pm. Currently I'm mid-way through a big edit of my second book. I try and get out for half an hour at lunch, quite often to Lizzy’s café on Newington Green for truffled mushrooms on toast! I’m usually just getting into my stride of writing by 4.30pm which is annoying as that’s when I am forced to stop to go and pick up the kids from nursery, get them home and give them their tea. Despite this, I feel very lucky to have a job that allows me to have so much of the day with them. At home, they’ll play in the garden or have some tea and then it’s bath and bed, followed by dinner for my husband and I. I often fantasise that I’ll pick up where I left off once I’ve done all that - but usually I’m too exhausted so he and I end up collapsed on the sofa watching gogglebox or line of duty instead!
Where do you write from?
My writing routine has changed a lot in lockdown – I used to prefer writing in cafes or the library, but I’ve now got myself a little writing nook in the loft. It’s nice and light and there’s a balcony to sit on if I need some fresh air. I have a little kettle up there and loads of books.
What are your non-negotiables when it comes to writing?
Childcare is the main one! I can’t bear to write in a messy space so I try to keep the desk tidy and weirdly I find that lighting a candle can help me focus. I don’t mind a bit of background noise but I can’t write with music on. During lockdown a neighbour was having their house renovated which was a bit of a nightmare, though so I invested in some noise cancelling headphones after that!
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve been writing like this for the past year and a half, since I stopped working for The Times (where I was joint head of news).
How has the way you write changed over the past few years?
When my daughters were very young babies I had to be quite creative about writing during their nap times. My elder daughter only napped in the pram so I had to keep the laptop in the bottom of it and whip it out in the park as soon as she was asleep. My younger one is much more easy going and as a newborn baby, she would just nap on the floor of the attic while I wrote, which was a dream!
Do you have any tips or techniques you can share that make writing easier?
I think it’s easy to fall victim to a false sense of urgency about things like replying to emails, and always put your work in progress to the back of the queue. I find this can really impede progress and creativity so I find it’s important to be quite disciplined about things like checking the news, emails and social media. Sometimes disconnecting the internet can be helpful! As can switching off your phone. Sometimes I allocate myself specific times of day- such as first thing, lunchtime and 4pm – to check emails.
Where would your dream writing spot be?
Probably a cosy spot by the fire in a country pub, with an endless supply of tea and toast and absolutely foul weather outside, making it not at all tempting to be doing anything else!
On the days you’re not at home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?
I love writing in different environments – especially cafes. I think it’s actively helpful to have the slight buzz of other people around, and I get quite a lot of ideas for characters from just being out and about in the world. Writing can be a lonely process and I don’t find being locked in my attic all the time all that brilliant for creativity! So I’m really looking forward to the rules changing in the UK next month which will mean I’m able to write in cafes again.