A Day in the Life of Author – Alan McDermott

I am delighted to welcome author Alan McDermott to the blog today. Alan is one of those authors that I am in awe of – he writes great books while holding down a full time job, and has twin girls at home too. This is how a normal day for him goes. Amazing!

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Being an author is fantastic!  The money, the fame, being able to get up whenever you want, write a couple of thousand words and then play a round of golf or go for a spin in the Lamborghini…

Well, for a select few, it’s fantastic.

For the rest of us, writing often plays second or third fiddle to daily life, and I thought I’d share a typical day-in-the-life so that you can appreciate how much goes into producing a Tom Gray novel.

5:00AM  The alarm goes off and I throw on my dressing gown before stumbling to the bathroom to complete my ablutions, setting my phone to charge on the way.

5:01AM    Return to the living room to turn the heating on, which I forget most mornings. NOW I can have my shower!

5:20AM  After dressing, time for the first coffee of the day (milk, two sugars AND Coffeemate!), then turn the laptop on.  I check my emails (delete, delete, spam, delete, AH!  A real person), then check to see if Gray Justice has hit the number one spot on Amazon.  With that futile exercise out of the way, I go through my Twitter feed and check my new followers, then a quick visit to Facebook.

5:40AM  Time to start writing (after making the second cup of coffee, sans Coffemate this time).  I open the Word document (which thankfully lets me go to the place I left off — thank you, Microsoft Office 2013!) and re-read yesterday’s efforts.  As my daily word count is around 600 to 1000 words, it doesn’t take long.  After making a couple of changes, I carry on where I left off, and manage about 100 words before my wife wakes up to iron my shirt.  I know, I could iron my own, but I do such a poor job that I’ve been banned from ironing…and washing clothes…and washing the dishes…

6:00AM  I’ve made my wife a coffee, so I settle back into the chair and get another 50 words done before writer’s block hits, and for the umpteenth time I wonder why I can’t plot the book out in advance.  I’ve tried, but by the time I get to chapter three the story has taken a completely different direction, and the original plot is long forgotten.

6:25AM  Time to head to work.  I email the last paragraph to my work account so that I can add bits to it in my breaks.  Sometimes I get a lift in from a friend, otherwise I’ll take the bus.  Today is bus day, and after it arrives seven minutes late I spend the fifteen minute journey on my phone doing some serious research.  Did I say research?  I meant Candy Crush Saga.

6:50AM  Turn on the work PC and make a coffee while waiting for it to boot up.  I now have eight and a half hours of development work, building and maintaining websites for our NHS customers, to look forward to.

7:30AM  Breakfast time.  I go to the local shop for a baguette filled with bacon, brie and cranberry sauce, and eat it while trying to decide on the next line in the story.  I manage to get another 38 words added.

9:02AM  Coffee break.  My colleagues gather in the kitchen for a chat, but I take my drink back to my desk and get another 67 words written down.

11:11AM  I take an early lunch and grab a sausage roll, which I eat at my desk while adding another 179 words to the story.

1:03PM  Final coffee break, but I settle for water instead, and another few words get added to the count before I email it home.

2.59PM  Home time!!  I get a lift and arrive home at 3:12PM.  The girls are already home from school and my wife is preparing our tea.  Time to catch up on the latest playground gossip before finding out how my wife’s day went.

4:05PM  I turn on my laptop, open my email and copy the latest words into the manuscript.  I’ve been checking my emails and twitter feed on my phone during the day, so I can go straight to the book and get writing.

4:07PM  The first argument between my daughters erupts, and I have to play referee.  This usually means finding something for them to do that doesn’t involve them fighting over the same toy.  One of them wants to draw in her bedroom, the other wants to watch SpongeBob.  Fine with me.  With the rebellion quashed, I can get back to the book.

4:16PM  I tear myself away from SpongeBob and try to focus on the book, but it isn’t working, so I switch to the bedroom.  Finally, I get some words down.

4:23PM  The girls have found something else to fight over, so I make peace again and sit down to help them with their homework.  I need a conducive atmosphere, and I’m not getting it tonight, so it’s going to be one of those nights when little gets done.

5:12PM  Tea is ready, but I’ve decided to have mine later.  Instead, I get a beer and retreat to the bedroom to try and get a few more words down.  None come.

6:25PM  The girls have brushed their teeth and had a shower, so they go to their room to play for 30 minutes before going to bed.  Some words came while I was away from the laptop, but back in front of it, they don’t fit the story.  I search for an alternative phrase, but it eludes me.

7:03PM  I’ve managed another two sentences, with a word count for the day of 609.  Time to kiss the girls goodnight, then another beer while I watch Meridian news on ITV+1.

7:30PM  I stick my tea in the microwave and eat it while watching the national news, then settle down to watch Judge Judy with my wife.

8:09PM  My eyes are watering because I’m so tired, so I head to bed with my kindle.

8:23PM  ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

So there you have it: a typical day in which I’ve written enough words to keep the reader going for about 50 seconds.  Tomorrow will be much the same, just as it has been for the last 43 months, and no doubt the next three years will follow a similar pattern.  Still, there’s always the hope that one day, perhaps, one of my books will hit the jackpot, and grant me — if not the golf and sports car — at least the ability to have a lie in now and again.

GrayJustice_FrontCover_11.27.13I reviewed Alan’s first book – Gray Justice – when I was still reviewing books, and it is a really great read. It’s fast paced and exciting – and well worth reading. And I’ve just noticed that this morning it is number 7 in the UK Kindle chart. Fantastic news!

You can find Gray Justice at by clicking HERE.

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