Despite tons of movies and books revolving around authors and publishers, the life of the average author is still pretty mysterious to most. Why?
- Hollywood never gets publishing right. Ever. This is the one fact agents, editors, publicists, and authors agree with.
- An author’s journey to publication is unique, VERY unique, and authors’ lives reflect that.
Being an author is hard work. And most authors—yes, even famous New York Times bestsellers—can’t afford to be full-time writers without someone else supplementing their income, health care, etc., and even then most of us have day jobs or a side hustle or both! I could go on and on about the different types of author lives I’ve seen out there, but I thought I’d share mine instead.
So what’s my average day as an author like?
Morning: Time to get up and go to work
Yes, I work a full-time day job. I currently work in marketing for the Mid-Continent Public Library. Basically, I study our demographics and choose programming that I think would best suit our community. I also change out displays, research tools we could utilize, and work on desk serving the community. (Librarians have to be super flexible. You go wherever demands are needed, and that changes any given minute.) It’s an 8-5 instead of 9-5 (because librarians don’t get paid for their lunch break at my location), so I actually spend a minimum of 45 hours a week at work. That being said, I love my job. It’s pretty fulfilling.
Lunch Break, a.k.a. Precious Writing Time
At my day job, we are required to take a one-hour lunch break (again, not paid). Which is fine with me. I spend about 15 minutes slamming whatever meal-prep nonsense I made the night before, and then I spend the rest of the 45 minutes writing whatever I can in my book. I actually just hit my first 10,000 words accomplished on my lunch break alone, which felt like a huge stepping stone for me. If the writing isn’t working that day, I spend my lunch break writing blog posts (like this one!) or updating my author website, scheduling social media posts, checking my e-mail, reading my beta partners’ latest, or editing work for my clients. Clients, you ask? Yes, I have another job on top of my library job. But I’ll get to that in a minute.
Sometimes at work, I get to process books, which basically means checking returned books and giving them the all-clear to go back out on the floor. My work is nice enough to allow us to listen to podcasts or music during these shifts. (They don’t happen every day, but I thought it important to mention since I get some work done during this as well.) Basically, if I’m lucky enough, I can listen to a writing podcast or a podcast focusing on my current research. It helps catch me up some weeks, not going to lie. Also, I’ve learned to love processing as a reader. I stumble across all kinds of books I never would have found on my own, and it’s broadened my reading spectrum like no other. I read more adult books than ever before, and it’s nice to have a reprieve from YA every now and then.
After Work to Bedtime
I drive home, generally listening to more research podcasts. If errands need to be run—groceries, gas, etc.—they’re typically done here. When I get home, it’s time to feed the cats, clean the dishes, make dinner, meal prep for the next day, exercise (or so I tell myself), and get to bed. Very rarely do I have the energy to write during this time frame, but I usually have the time to read. I catch up on my latest and head to bed, ready for another day.
So what about my weekends?
On Saturdays, I spend the entire day working on my services. Between editing during my lunch breaks and editing all day Saturday, I spend about 15-20 hours per week editing. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I won’t lie, I considered shutting down my services when I started my full-time job, but I just couldn’t. I love editing too much, and I have a number of clients I love to work with over and over. (Shout out to Steven Ramirez, C.E. Johnson, Grant Goodman, J.N. Colon, Rich Leder, and more! Seriously, check out their books. They are all so talented.) At the end of the day, editing is still one of my passions, and I want to spend time working with authors on their novels. Not going to lie, though, while I’m editing, I spend time catching up on housework. (Those dishes and laundry won’t clean themselves.) And I drink a lot of coffee. Obviously
I take Sunday off. No emails. No editing. No writing. I even try to refrain from social media. It’s time to spend with family without distractions. And then, Monday starts the chaos all over again.
That’s my average author life.
I work one full-time job and one part-time job, but I try to fit my author life in with everything else.On average, I work 60 hours per week. I may not have the most writing time or personal time or TIME, but hey, I’m doing the best I can every day. Every novel was written one word at a time, just as this blog post was, and I’m about to put more down after this!
Fun fact: I’ve actually covered this three times in the past, because my life has changed that much. If you’re curious, this is what my life was like as a night-working full-time freelance editor and publicist in 2015, and here’s my post in 2013 that covered what my writing life was like as a full-time college senior working part-time at a publisher.
So what’s your average day as an author like?
14 thoughts on “My Average Day as an Author”
I should write my own blog post along these lines, but … 15 years ago when I started writing, I had the same job I have now, my kids were 8 and 5 and I coached them in baseball and soccer, which meant I was busy with their sports about 10 months out of every year. I started running and ran enough to run four half marathons and a lot of shorter “races.” I cooked every weekend — meals that took hours to prepare. I baked bread, gardened, did all sorts of things, and wrote two novels and dozens of short stories over the course of about eight years. Now, I have the same job — it’s high stress and leaves me drained at the end of the day. My kids are grown and more often than not on weekends I choose something easy to prepare for dinner or go out. And my typical day is … during the week, read the newspaper and check out social media and my favorite websites in the hour before I need to get ready for work. There’s no way I could write at work, including during the lunch hour since I typically eat at my desk with my door open and I basically continue working through lunch. When I come home, I have dinner, surf the internet some more, then read and go to bed because I’m pretty much dead to the world by 9:00, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing between dinner and bedtime. And on weekends? On some level weekends are about recovery. As I told a friend yesterday, writing takes emotional energy and everything else going on in my life leaves me so drained. Writing has become the victim in all that. Although I’ve started to make some progress in the last few months. I’m in the process of editing a 35,000 word piece I’ve “completed” — I’m editing it and re-reading it to find gaps and avenues for expanding the story so I can get it to 50,000 words.
I applaud you for the discipline to write as much as you do during your lunch hour. I wish I could figure out a way to do that, or just kick the internet/social media habit at night and use that hour to write.
Thanks for sharing your story! I think it helps writers to share these sorts of things since there is such a pressure for authors to market themselves as this perfect, productive, writing machine. Definitely not as productive as I’d like to be, but I’ve learned to be kinder to myself. I hope your writing is going well when you get the chance to write. 🙂
Yes, I’ve started to be kinder to myself as well. I’m setting smaller goals in terms of my production and recognizing that, on some level, I need the down time I’ve been taking for the last couple of years.
Absolutely! Down time is so important. Over the past few years, I’ve definitely given myself a lot more of it, and will probably continue to do so. Writing or not, it’s beneficial (and healthy)! 😀
Thanks for sharing your day, Shannon. It was very interesting to read 😊.
Glad you liked it! Thank you for reading and commenting.
Hi Shannon! I enjoyed this post very much. We readers always want to know how writers spend their days and you’ve proven that it’s a lot of hard work. I also liked reading about your library job – I also work in a public library, at the Reference desk and also in Youth Services (wherever there is a need). I see a lot of books I would never have known about and working there has definitely broadened my reading interests. Good luck with all you do!
So glad you enjoyed it! I started my library career in Youth Services and totally loved it. Working in the library is great. Thank you for reading and commenting! Good luck to you too. 🙂
Wow! Love your energy and passion! Which part of your day do you enjoy the most?
Oh! Tough question! Daily, I always look forward to my lunch break when I get to write, but I really love my library gig too. I used to freelance from home full time, and while that was great, working out of the house has done me a lot of good (mentally, physically, emotionally, etc.) But I definitely miss working with my cats. Lol Favorite part of the day, huh. Probably Saturday mornings. I get to edit in my pajamas with a cup of coffee and a cat in my lap, and sometimes I carve out a little extra writing time too. Thanks for jogging this writer’s brain!
Inspiring post! I need to work better on managing my time.
Very busy lifestyle. But you manage it well.
Great post. Very relatable.
You are such a hard worker, what an admirable quality!