A Day In The Life of a Full-Time Writer

Here’s what that looks like for me.

By Shannon Ashley

Recently, I received some requests from readers who want to know what my usual day looks like. To some folks, the idea of writing online in lieu of working a “real job” seems like a novelty. For others, it seems foolish.

Either way, I get why people want to know. And to be perfectly honest? It’s pretty boring, but it’s still a life I love.

I wake up in the morning to get my daughter ready for school.

This is admittedly a new phase of my writer’s journey. My 5-year-old daughter began an all-day preschool five days a week.

So, first and foremost, I’ve now got to get her ready for the day and over to the school.

Depending upon what else is happening, I might have household chores to do before school. Which means I wake up between 5:30 and 7AM. But typically, 6:30.

Sometimes, I wake up early and knock out a draft.

I am not a quick writer by any means, but I occasionally do write a decent draft in an hour or two.

When I happen to naturally wake up early, say 4 or 5AM, I sometimes take that opportunity to write a story. Or, at least get started with one.

I get home around 8:15 and eat breakfast/sit down to write.

This is what happens, so, most days. Occasionally, I might need to run to the store or go to an appointment. That means the writing must wait.

At this point, I have no editorial calendar. I write whatever inspires me most in the moment. That said, I do try to switch things up. Vary the topics.

It is very difficult for me to hit deeply personal essays everyday. Stories that delve into my past and depression take an enormous amount of energy from me. And those are the stories which I tend to write in bits and pieces over time.

Less serious stories tend to be my one and done tales.

I typically aim to publish once a day. More if I can manage it.

If I happen to be done with a story by lunch time, I will usually take a brief break and write a second story for the day.

The biggest indicator for me to decide whether or not I should write another story is my daily engagement goal. That goal changes, and I do sometimes choose to take more breaks.

But there’s a lot of thought that goes into my decisions with my daily writing.

My writing schedule is a flexible priority.

That means it is almost the most important thing in my life, because it is the way I support myself and my daughter.

But obviously, I have to get my kid to school. I have to clothe her and feed her and connect with her in a meaningful way.

Motherhood is the most important job I have, but my writing comes exceptionally close because it supports my role as a mother.

As a result, I enjoy the flexibility of writing whenever and wherever. Frankly, I’ve been writing mostly from my phone for the past month just to give my arm a break from writing on my tablet.

And I love it.

If I need to schedule an appointment during the day or run a few errands, I do. I don’t flip out if I can’t put out a new story every single day but I do my best and am grateful for the days which feature plenty of flow.

Hey, I even enjoy the days that are hardest because they teach me how to move forward. They also help me see that I’m much stronger than I think.

I try to stay off of screens in the evening.

This doesn’t always happen, but it’s a habit I’m trying to do better about. I currently try to make myself happy with full-time hours and quit feeding that urge to work overtime.

The way that works is I might allow myself to jot down story ideas without actually writing them out. And I do happen to go to bed most nights with a million different ideas playing in my head.

It’s funny, but I’ve developed a habit of seeking life lessons in practically everything.

Some days, I don’t write much at all.

Shit happens. Maybe my daughter and I need a day together without mom working so much.

When that’s the case I almost always make up for it. I might stay up late to write or write extra pieces the next day.

However it works out, the truth is pretty damn unsexy. I write a lot, and for some folks that might seem like a huge chore. But the reality is that I love it.

I really love what I do, and for that I consider myself one lucky single mama.

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