Ever wondered what being an author feels like?
Welcome to A day in the life of ... Author Brenda Gurr.
How the day starts
My workday begins after the school bus has left and the house is at least a little tidy! If I know there is a lot of mess about, I simply can’t work! I make myself a cup of peppermint tea and sit at my sunny desk in my tiny study at the front of the house. Before I begin work, I like to spend a short while reading children’s books, sometimes old favourites, sometimes new material. I find that gets me in the right frame of mind to do my own work.
I always use a to do list and a schedule for the week, otherwise I panic. As an editor and an author, I always have lots of different jobs to do, such as preparing book outlines, devising character descriptions or writing manuscript reviews, so I need to keep the due dates for these in mind.
My latest best friend
I have a newly acquired sit/stand desk, which has been wonderful for my neck and back. I try to change from sitting to standing every 25 minutes or so. I always grumble when it is time to stand up but after a few minutes, I actually find that I far prefer it to sitting. For some reason, I find I am more creative. I’m not sure why!
How to fight the block
When I get the dreaded writer’s block, I’ve discovered that the best way through it is to go back to reading an excerpt from a children’s book I love to give me inspiration. Otherwise, I end up procrastinating and surfing the net (very, very dangerous for writers and other creative types). Once I feel a little more inspired, I go back to my own work and start again on a different part of the manuscript. For me, writer’s block seems to come from that fear that ‘my writing is terrible—who would want to read this?’. I’ve discovered that you really just have to push through this and keep on writing, no matter how awful you think it is! You have to give yourself permission to be a terrible writer, especially if it’s the first draft. Words can always be smoothed out, rumpled up or even erased later on.
By lunch time ...
I am usually ready for lunch long before 12 o’clock. Writing makes me hungry! After eating, I try to get in some exercise—either a walk or stint on the exercise bike—and sometimes I play the cello, which acts as a form of meditation for me.
And the day draws to a close ...
My workday ends with the end of the school day. I don’t work well at night, so I rarely do it unless I have a pressing deadline.
Keeping it real
People often wonder what it is like to work from home. It is a real balancing act, especially when you have a family. It has become much easier now I have school-aged children. I find the hardest thing is switching off from the guilt of not doing household chores. You really just have to tell yourself you are working and you will take care of the boring but necessary jobs when your creative work is done. Not always so easy!
3 top tips for writers
• Writing can be a lonely business. It’s important to connect face to face with other writers or people in the publishing industry whenever you can. Conferences are worth their weight in gold, so take the time to find the best and most relevant ones to you (Australian children’s writers, check out the CYA and KidLitVic conferences).
• Write every day, even if you can only spare 10 minutes. Regular practice is the key to developing solid writing skills.
• Keep up with publishing trends. This involves reading the latest books in your target genres to help you understand what publishers are looking for. Treasure great writing and study it closely. Try to work out what makes a piece of writing so compelling—is it wonderful characters, colourful descriptions or amazing plots? Think like an editor and read the best parts of a book over and over again to get a feel for what the writer is doing.
Thanks for your time and tips Brenda!
Brenda's latest book, Miss Eliza Flowerdew can Nearly touch the ceiling,
is available in all great bookstores November 1st!
Watch the trailer HERE