Valerie Bloom - 4 July 2006
When I visit schools or perform at literary festivals, I am often asked if I have a set writing routine. I would love to be able to say yes, but unfortunately, I can't. I always envy writers who are disciplined enough to set and follow a routine. How many of you are writers, I wonder? I would love to know how you organise your writing time. At the start of the residency I promised to share a typical working week, so here goes.
It's my turn to do the school run so at 8.00 a.m I get my daughter and neighbour's son into the car and head off. The other two girls who usually go with us are doing their GCSEs so they won't be coming today. The traffic is reasonable this morning so we make good time.That's good, I might be able to get back in time to do some work before I have to collect them from school.
Since I'm out I might as well do the shopping. That is a fatal decision. It is 12.30 before I head back home. I go into my study, but the piles of papers waiting to be filed are too depressing. I take the folder of things to do into the dining room and check the answerphone for messages. I have two from a couple of schools, one enquiring about availabilty and another wanting to sort out a timetable for a visit. I return the calls but the teachers are in classes, so I leave messages for them to contact me and phone National Rail enquiries to find out about trains for some visits which are looming.
Now I turn to my notebook. I'm feeling a bit guilty because there are twelve commissioned poems which have to be written in the next week, as well as an article for the TES. But I have to finish this novel.
The phone rings. Someone wants to know if I can visit a school during Black History Month. Unfortunately October is already fully booked. I glance at the clock. Help! I am going to be late to pick up the kids unless I leave now. I grab the notebook and pen and head for the door. If the children are late out, I might be able to write a little while I'm waiting.
But they are not late and my daughter who is always hungry wants to know what's for supper. Yet again, the writing will have to wait until everyone has gone to bed.
Finally, at 11.00 pm I take up my notebook and start to - yawn. I remember I need to write an invoice for tomorrow and another for next week. I email the last and try to answer some of the 202 emails waiting for attention. At 1.00 am I admit defeat and crawl into bed. I've written one paragraph, but I have a longish train journey tomorrow, so I can get some writing done then.