• Shaun Baines

A day in the life of a writer


Like most writers, my day starts in my dressing robe. I'm an early riser – crazy early. As an insomniac, I can be found creeping around the house at all hours of the night, like a be-slippered burglar. I may not be out to steal a TV, but I'll raid my wife's stash of biscuits if I can find them.


I get up properly at 4am and head straight for the kettle. Two cups of coffee later (no more or I'll be climbing the walls!) and I crack open the laptop. By the time my wife wakes, I may have already written a thousand words.

We have breakfast together and discuss the news, our plans for the day and why I have biscuit crumbs down my front. Then it’s a shower and back to the grind.

I don't have my own office so I'm either on the sofa in the sitting room or lying on the bed in the bedroom. I can't have distractions. No TV, music or chatter. Whenever one of my cockerels crows, they risk a chubby writer chasing them with a stick.

By mid-morning, I need a break. I'd love to say, I go for a brisk walk or a session at the gym, but more likely, I'll be back in the biscuit cupboard. Story ideas are still whirring around my head and I won't be away from the laptop for long.

But the creative juices generally run dry around the 2pm mark. That's not too bad, though. About 8 hours of writing. At this stage, I need to get outside and shake the gangsters from my hair. I love gardening and spend an hour or so tending my fruit and veg. Rock and roll, right?

I have tea with my wife, watch TV and then get to bed, ready to do it again the next day.

I do as many drafts as are needed, but my process looks a little like this.

1) Pre-writing Post-It note draft – I plot out the novel on my bedroom wall with a fistful of Post-Its. (One Month)

2) The Word Count – getting words (any words) on paper. This is about quantity, not quality. (Three months)

3) The Cull – following my vocabulary oil spill, I'll delete up to 30% and replace those words with something good. (Six weeks)

4) The Flourish – this is my favourite draft. I'm confident in the book and look for ways to improve it. I turn to a more poetic inkwell here to add extra colour. (Three weeks)

5) The Reality Check – I wouldn't dare submit any writing without passing it through the hands of my beta readers. They are an all-female gang of super women, including my best friend, who is a man. They point out my mistakes and let me know where to improve. (Three weeks)

6) The Proof Read – my God, this is dull. It feels like wading through treacle, but it has to be done. (One week)

7) The Agent – I submit the book to my agent, David Haviland of the Andrew Lownie Agency. He is more than a marketing master and lends his editorial expertise. (Six weeks)

8) Final Draft – this is the time to calm my insecurities. I go through the book one last time, knowing it will be in the hands of publishers in the near future. Double check I've spelled my name correctly. (One week)


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