Sunday, October 8, 2017

Christian McPherson : My Writing Routine

This is an average day for me:

4:45 a.m. Rise and make coffee, perform a yogi sun salutation for 30 minutes

5:15 a.m. Make protein smoothie drink half and then go for a 10 km run (unless it’s -20 C or colder, in which case I use my treadmill)

5:45 a.m. Return home, finish smoothie and shower.

6:00 a.m. Cycle downtown and volunteer preparing and serving breakfast for the homeless

9:00 a.m. Head to YMCA to teach aqua-fitness class to seniors

10:30 – 11:15 a.m. powerlifting at the gym followed by 2nd shower and then cycle home

Noon Lunch: tomato, spinach, and feta cheese egg white omelette washed down by a German sparking wine

12:45 p.m. Off to CHEO to read to sick kids

2:30 p.m. I alternate between rock climbing, sky diving, scuba diving, and hang gliding depending on my mood and the season

5:30 p.m. Teach Aikido

7:00 p.m. Make four course dinner for a local women’s shelter (I specialize in French and Italian cuisine)

9:00 p.m. Descend down the gothic wrought iron circular staircase to my vast wine cellar and select a bottle to drink while I work on my new novel. Write until midnight.

Midnight: Catch up on emails, international correspondence, respond to requests to appear at literary festivals, etc. until 1:30 a.m.

Sleep until 4:45 am.


I hope you had a chuckle. Yes, sadly this is all lies. I wish I had more time to do all kinds of things. Normally I’m up at 6 a.m. and arrive at work at 7 a.m. I’m a computer programmer for the federal government and masquerade as a writer. I perform my job duties until 3 p.m. and then I walk home. It’s about a 30 minute walk. It’s where I clear my head and think about all kinds of things. Often I think about what I’m working on writing-wise. Sometimes I come up with a poem or a story idea while I’m walking.  When I get to work or when I get home, depending which way I’m going, I will quickly scribble down a line or two so I don’t forget it. I may even email myself from my iPhone a line of what I’m thinking about as I’m walking.
My wife and I have two kids, currently 11 and 13. They are both involved in sports. I make dinner and then my wife and I drive them around from place to place. We only have one car so this can be a tricky business. When we get home the kids have a second dinner (a can of soup, or some noodles, or some heat up nuggets). We also have two dogs; so between my wife and me, they need a walk too. After all the dishes, laundry, dog walking are done, and after all school lunches made, well we are done too – mentally and physically tired. There isn’t a lot left in the tank to be creative. It’s a Netflix show for an hour with a beer and then bed.
In those rare moments between having a real life, I write. I’ll take an evening off and write something. Or squeeze a poem in at work when nobody is looking. But that’s just for poetry and short stories. For novels, it’s a different story.
I’ve written three novels and two collections of short stories (the second is coming out in the fall of 2018) and six collections of poetry (four have been published so far). My first book was a collection of short stories entitled “Six Ways to Sunday.” I worked on the stories in that collection for about a decade, mostly before I had kids. My first book of poetry was written over many years, again, before kids came along. My long winded point is this, my writing habits have changed dramatically, kids being the changing factor.
The only way I get novels written (so far) is to take time off work and write when nobody is home. I took a whole year off (my wife is so nice) to write my second novel. I wrote most of my third novel in six week (it’s a short novel!). All three of them were written when I had time off of work and no kids were in the house. On those rare days when this does happen (and will hopefully happen again soon), I’m in my writing chair by 9 am with lots of coffee coursing through my veins and a plan by my side. I write with a plan. I detail chapter by chapter where I’m going. The entire novel is mapped out before I begin. Time for me is an entirely precious thing and I don’t have the luxury to figure out where I would like to go. I don’t think about it, I just follow the map I’ve already made. It might be just one line per chapter: “Colin goes to the park and stomps on a bear while an old lady watches;” that’s all I need to guide me. I usually write from 9-11:30, break for lunch, then write again from 12-3 or 3:30. Then the kids are back from school and real life kicks back in. When I’m writing with my plan, I don’t do a lot of editing; I just go. No stopping, no looking back. Just get it done, get it on the paper. All editing is done in-between real life moments when I’m back at work.
And that’s it. That’s how I write; short stories and poetry in the small creative cracks between real life, and novels are done in longer concentrated bursts where I get to escape reality for a few months at a time.
            What’s my writing space like? Well I have a PC computer and I work in Microsoft Word. I have many book shelves (five brown Ikea puppies) which surround me and are filled with movies, books, toys, and art which I love. My office has moved around within my own house and I’m currently moving it into my bedroom because of my rotten children. This is the kind of nonsense we do for love.

Christian McPherson was born in Ottawa, Ontario in 1970. He is the author of nine books, Going Fly (coming from Now Or Never Publishing, fall, 2018), One Poem, Saving Her, My Life in Pictures, Cube Squared, The Sun Has Forgotten Where I Live, The Cube People (shortlisted for the 2011 ReLit Awards), Poems that swim from my brain like rats leaving a sinking ship, and Six Ways to Sunday (shortlisted for the 2008 ReLit Awards). He has a degree in philosophy from Carleton University and a computer programming diploma from Algonquin College. He is married to the beautiful Marty Carr. They have two kids, Molly and Henry. They all live together in Ottawa.


  1. I'm so glad the first part isn't true. I felt inadequate from the first sentence, and by the end of the first part wanted to flush myself down the loo.

    After beginning to realise it actually WASN'T true, I really enjoyed your piece. Thank you; and for making me smile.

  2. Glad I could make you laugh. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. I thought, he is awfully quick, when you said 10K and then half an hour later, you were home.I enjoyed this a lot. I actually think the lies you wrote could turn into an interesting character. Thanks!!!