First off, I want to say life is messy. Even if I do try to set aside a full day for writing, things usually pop up and at least part of the day is lost. Below is what I would call my ideal writing day. A schedule that isn’t often achieved, but is what I strive for every time I say to myself, I think I’m going to try to have a writing day today. Sometimes, of course, when I set aside a day for writing, my brain doesn’t quite cooperate and I won’t have any good ideas. On other days, I’ll have lots of good ideas, but little time to write them down. For me, it’s all about finding the right balance between time and inspiration.
Since I work an office job from 9:00 to 5:30 during the week, my writing days typically occur on the weekends. I sometimes write on the weekdays when I can find the time, such as on lunch breaks or in the evenings, but the majority of my creative work is done on the weekends. I used to carry around a small notebook with me during the week to jot down ideas, but now I just use the notes app on my phone. I’ll type out notes when I’m walking the dog, or riding the train, or in a meeting and then transcribe them to my computer on the weekend.
On a typical writing day, I wake up around 10:00 and have breakfast. I’ll usually watch something on TV while I’m eating. (I eat most of my meals in front of the TV, because I’m an adult.) After breakfast, I’ll open up a few Word documents and tinker around for a few hours, either by adding a few new lines to a story, or by editing existing lines. Editing usually consists of adding and removing commas, or slightly changing the order of the words and then changing them back. I tend to work on several different stories at once. This way when I get stuck on one (and I often get stuck), I can switch over to another.
After 3 hours or so, I’ll take a lunch break and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or if I’m living my best life grab a slice of pizza (who are we kidding, two slices) from the shop down the street. I’ll watch some more TV during lunch. After lunch, I like to switch gears from writer mode to magazine editor mode. I’ll open up the submissions queue for Okay Donkey (the small lit mag I co-edit), read the flash, and reply to emails. I find getting lost in the day to day administrative practices of running a lit mag to be pretty Zen.
I’ll often read throughout the day to get my creative juices flowing. This means either my fellow literary magazines, or whatever book I’m reading at the time. Since I mostly write micros and flash, that’s been most of my reading material these days. Right now, I’m reading The Best Small Fictions 2018 edited by Sherrie Flick and Aimee Bender, and New Micro edited by James Thomas and Robert Scotellaro. And, of course, while writing, editing, and reading I’m constantly checking twitter and posting stuff to promote our writers.
When I’m writing, I’m more or less usually plopped on the couch with the dog. (I love my couch and most of my daily activities revolve around it). I do have a nice wooden writing desk in the corner of the living room, but my partner (who is also a writer and co-edits the lit mag with me) is most likely to use it. Whenever I’m feeling more professional, it is nice to sit down at the writing desk to write. Another thing I like doing on my writing days is to take naps on the couch, as I like dreaming up ideas while lying prone and tend to fall asleep as I do so.
In the late afternoon or early evening, I’ll take a break from my creative work to do the less glamourous work of household chores, such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and picking up the apartment. I usually put on some music while this happens. Sometimes I like to listen to music while writing and editing, as well. Then around 7:00, I’ll have dinner and watch a movie. Later in the night, I might check in on my writing, or the magazine to see if I can get any more work done. Then I’ll read for a bit and go to bed.
Eric Andrew Newman lives in Los Angeles with his partner and their dog. He works as an archivist for a nonprofit foundation by day and as a writer of micro and flash fiction by night. His writing has appeared in Atlas and Alice, Cleaver, Ellipsis Zine, formercactus, Gargoyle, Necessary Fiction, New Madrid, Pithead Chapel, and Quarter After Eight, among others. He is the Flash Editor of Okay Donkey and is at work on his first chapbook of stories. You can find him on his new website eanewmanwriter.wordpress.com, or on twitter @eric_andrew_new.