Zeroes by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan & Deborah Biancotti is published by Simon & Schuster, priced £7.99
In the picture you can see my new standing desk arrangement, made using an Ikea step stool. Just to be meta, on the laptop screen is a picture of my rented Writing Room, which I'm in the process of moving out of in favour of the new Writing Shed that's nearly built in my back yard. Right now I split my writing location between my kitchen table and the spare room with the standing desk.
My writing habits, when I'm drafting, are to write as early as possible. Fall out of bed and start, before doing anything else and especially before eating breakfast.
Then eat breakfast. Then get back on it. For Zeroes, write (on the laptop) a chapter (max 2000 words) in a day, maybe two on a good day; for solo work, write (longhand) ten pages (roughly 3300) in a day. Finish with a note about what to tackle tomorrow.
Then drop the writing and get some oxygen into the brain, with a walk or a swim. Speaking to another human is an excellent idea too, at this stage.
And read someone else's words before I go to sleep at night, to inspire me either with admiration or with irritation for the next day's work.
This desk is time-shared with my partner (hence the certificate for fly angling on the wall!), so it looks kind of bare because it has to be multi-purposed.
There's not a lot of natural light in my house—it's a historic 1870s terrace built in the British style—so consequently I buy a lot of bright things, like bright red ergonomic chairs. We just bought those awesome lights on swivel arms. Today, you can see daylight through the staircase on the left, which is a bonus. Reflected in the monitor, you may be able to make out the wall behind the desk, with its shiny gold wallpaper and framed print.
I'm not a morning person, so my typical day is customised to suit. I start off usually by feeding cats and then completing whatever business needs don't require my full attention. Like, answering email and checking social media. Lately I've also moved my gym sessions into the morning.
After whatever morning duties I have, I'll start in on the most pressing writing tasks. I try to track what I'm working on daily, but I haven't perfected the whole scheduling of work and rest yet.
Around lunchtime I do some exercise—usually I go to the gym for some weight training and cardio. Then the afternoon is back to writing. If I need the mental break, I might also try some meditation (I say 'try' because I'm terrible at meditation, but I've heard it's good for you, so . . . )
I've noticed that my mental acuity picks up around 2pm. In fact, I can usually tell when it's 2pm because there's a sensation like my brain is powering up. It's quite distinctive. I work until my boyfriend comes home, around 7pm. I usually try to stop work in the evenings & pick up something relaxing, like knitting—because that's how I roll! Evenings are also my fiction-consumption time: reading and watching.
Most of my life, I've had to squeeze writing around whatever else I've been doing. I worked full-time for twenty years, but in the past couple of years I've managed to live on a part-time salary, which has helped my productivity. The real problem, though, isn't how much time I have for writing, but how much energy. Now that I get to be a full-time writer for a while, I'm trying to develop different (and even more productive) habits. I'm a bit of a work in progress that way.
I have many different writing spaces. Have laptop will travel and ergonomics be damned, that’s me. I’ve written at desks, sitting in chairs, on the floor, on the bed, inside, outside, in Argentina, Australia, Canada, Italy, France, Mexico, Thailand and the United States. I’ve written on boats, on land and in the air.
However, my favorite writing space is my chair in Sydney. It's upholstered with vintage coats from the 1940s and 50s, which gives it a tweedy look and feel. It's kind of like someone stitched a bunch of college professors together into one piece of furniture. And really, that's what we all need in a writing chair, right?
I write between caffeine and alcohol. That is, I get up early and have coffee and take a long walk, sometimes almost two hours. Then I work pretty much until dinner time. Then I start cooking, which cools down the brain. As does wine.
I'm pretty sure that the most important thing in any writing schedule is the ritual itself. When your body and brain get used to a certain pattern, they don't fight the work as much. Your butt hits the writing chair, and it's time to write. So whatever your schedule is, the important thing is to be consistent.