I’ve had a lot of questions about what I’m doing and how I end up spending a day here in Zurich. Let’s be honest, most people view authors with a suspicious eye. What do they really do? And is it really a career if you’re not churning out best sellers? I’ve even had a handful of people refer to my time here as “leisurely.” They say, “How great that you get to relax!” But I’m not here to relax. Katie and I spend our weekends exploring some breathtaking places, but I came here intending to work and grind and fight for something I view as my dream career. Here’s how the days have looked:
7:00am – Waking up. Three days a week, I force myself to go on a run (no Pandora, so I just play Polaroid by Imagine Dragons over and over). A quiet time, breakfast, all the good things.
8:15am – Katie usually catches a bus to the train around this time. Sometimes I join her and sometimes I catch a bus right afterward. I use my 20-30 minutes of travel to read (Ex: I read about fifteen pages of Time Salvager by Wes Chu today). Sometimes, I listen to a fantasy football podcast or something similar.
9:00am – By this time, I’ve reached any number of Starbucks around the city. Or walked to Spheres. I could write a whole blog about it, but Starbucks is the most convenient place for my work. They give you a lot of coffee, have wi-fi, provide outlets, and never rush you out after you finish.
9:00-12:15pm – Writing time. Usually, I’m sitting outside (where the wi-fi doesn’t work). And usually, I’ve completely caught up on social media. It’s kind of nice. Until about 3pm our time, no new content gets added to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. This means I can work with complete focus on what I’m completing.
12:15-1pm – The Swiss always, always, always take an hour for lunch. I try to take 45 minutes. I’ll eat leftovers back home or buy a schnitzel from my favorite local guy. Sometimes I’ll hunker down in Zurich HB or join Katie in Oerlikon. Either way, I take some time to rest my brain.
1:00-2:30pm – I also take the time to go grab groceries. Whatever’s on tap for dinner, I want to be ready to cook. Occasionally, I run other errands (Swisscom, bills, etc.)
2:30-6:00pm – Back to writing. If I get creatively exhausted, I’ll open whatever book I’m reading.
So that’s what it looks like. It’s not a relaxing vacation. Yes, there are benefits to a job like this. I get to wear comfortable clothes. I have flexibility to do anything I need to do at any given time. But I’m working 6-8 hours every day, because I want to do this for the rest of my life! If I can’t prove to myself that I can do it for an 8 month stretch, then how could I trust myself to do it for years and decades to come?
Hope this helps you to get a look at just one author’s day. I’m sure others do it differently, or have different demands on their time. Honestly, once I’m represented and fighting through edits and working with publishers, my schedule will change. I’ll have other duties and responsibilities heaped onto the pile. But it’s nice to have a regiment for the hours I have now, and to be taking advantage of them!
What have the results been?
First Month – 48,000 words
Second Month – 57,000 words
Annihilation – Jeff Vandemeer , All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr, The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins , Station Eleven – Emily St. John Mandel , The Wrath and the Dawn – Renee Adieh , Prince of Thorns – Mark Lawrence , The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison , The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson, Time Salvager – Wes Chu (In progress)
Alright, time to go to work!