How I Write: Juggling Life, Work, and Writing
Fantastic and busy young adult author Ben Davis is one of those super-people who seems to be able to do it all. We've managed to get him to take a moment out to tell us how he does it so we can learn his ways.
Writing. It’s what separates us from the animals. Well, except those Shakespeare typewriter monkeys. And unlike the monkeys, you don’t have infinity to get it done.
I have been a published children’s author since April 2014, and by this time next year, I will have five books out there in the world. And I have done all this while still holding down a day job.
I was, as I still am, a postman.
‘How do you do it?’ I hear you ask. ‘Are you Superman?’ The answers to these questions are ‘with lots of hard work’ and ‘yes’.
In fact, I was at work when I had the idea for my first book, The Private Blog of Joe Cowley. I was, as I still am, a postman. I was coming towards the end of my round when I realised I was delivering to the house of someone I went to school with. By being a bit nosy and looking at the envelopes, I noticed that his dad was in a relationship with a woman with the same surname as one of the worst school bullies. Straight away, an idea popped into my head. What if that happened when you were a kid? How would you deal with sharing a house, or even a bedroom with your worst enemy?
Before I could forget it, I wrote the idea down on one of those red cards – you know, the ones we put through your door when we pretend to knock – took it home and started writing. Four short years later, it was a real live book.
These days, of course, with contracts and deadlines, I don’t have four years to write a book, so I have to work much quicker. I set myself a target of two thousand words a day. When I’m in full flow in a story I really love, I easily achieve this, usually writing more. I generally finish work at about two o’clock, so I have the afternoon and evening to write.
Delivering mail is a pretty good job when you’re in the middle of a story, because it gives you plenty of time to think through what you’re going to do later
Delivering mail is a pretty good job when you’re in the middle of a story, because it gives you plenty of time to think through what you’re going to do later. I’ve often arrived at home with full plotlines and snatches of dialogue scribbled on little cards and bits of paper (never other people’s mail, though) and can’t wait to sit down and get creating.
Of course, if I had a mentally taxing job like neurosurgeon or something like that, I probably wouldn’t come up with quite as many ideas. Plus, I’d probably kill quite a lot of people.
Another problem you may come up against when you sit down to write after a long day at work is the needs of the person or persons that share your home. Thankfully, I have a very understanding wife who doesn’t get too perturbed when I shut myself away like Jack Torrance in The Shining, but I get that not everyone is so lucky. It’s important to make time for writing, even if it’s just half an hour before bed.
Of course, with our first child due next month, I’m sure I’ll have loads of time to work on my next book, because babies are really easy to look after, right?
If you loved this, check out how others write to get inspired to pick up a pen yourself!