A Day in the Life of a Writer: Megan Blandford

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I have known Megan online for many years with our professions crossing paths in various freelance writing groups when I was writing articles. I also had the pleasure of meeting Megan a couple of years ago where we shared a coffee and some laughs. We in fact, don’t live that far from each other but sadly don’t catch up enough (time for another coffee Megan??)  Since then Megan has gone on to become a prolific and well respected freelance writer, and now has written her very first book.

I’m Fine (and other lies) is a very personal experience with post natal depression. And Megan’s aim for the book is to get the conversation started so that mothers understand the importance of self-kindness and that PND isn’t a life sentence, – there is in fact good life beyond.

Megan is probably one of the most organised and life-balanced people I know, so let’s see what she gets up to in a ‘normal’ day…

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A Day in the Life of Megan

6am: My alarm goes off and I wake up with the very naughty habit of checking my emails, in the hope that while I slept all of my story pitches and media requests have been lovingly accepted. They haven’t – but there’s still hope. (Being a writer mostly consists of hope.)

6.30am: I run through my to-do list while showering, then grab a glass of water and go into my home office. I split my week up into the different parts of my career – some days are for writing and pitching freelance articles, some days are for book promotion and writing manuscripts – and today is a freelancing day.

7.30am: I’ve been replying to emails, sending off a couple of story ideas that I had during the night (and which, miraculously, still seem good in the bright lights of this morning), and checking the news to see if it sparks any timely article ideas. But now I realise the kids have slept in – yes, 7.30am is a sleep-in, and yes, this only ever happens on school mornings – so I open their bedroom doors, give them each a kiss on the cheek, and then go and start their lunchboxes.

8.30am: It would be lovely to say that the kids appeared after that one kiss, then got ready for school happily under my patient gaze, but every parent will see right through me. So, the truth: my voice gets increasingly louder as they refuse to wake up (and man, I wish they’d do this on a Sunday morning, just once), make all our breakfasts, get caught up in work again, then panic with ten minutes before we have to leave, shove two things in their lunchboxes and tell them to finish it off because I have to think of ideas all day and can’t come up with more ideas for bloody lunchboxes. Fun times!

9am: The kids are now at school and I go for a walk around the beautiful bushland beside the country town I live in. I wish I’d remembered to invite a friend to join me, or to download a podcast I’d heard about, or even bring my headphones to listen to the audio book I’ve got on the go – but I haven’t. In some ways I’m the most organised person you could meet, and in other ways … kind of forgetful.

10am: I’m back at my desk, and I stay put until pretty much school pick-up time (with lunch at my desk in between). The time flies, so I need to make the most of a quiet house for writing, researching and pitching stories.

Some days are full of intriguing stories, and others are articles that just pay the bills – today is a combo: I’m writing about funeral bonds (you can guess which category that falls into) and a personal piece about mental health, which is my big passion topic.

2pm: Although I said that I’m strict about each day being for a particular type of work, the truth is it’s never as black and white as that. By this time, I’m done with the articles I had to write and I take the next hour to fire off some emails to media outlets, podcast producers and bloggers about my book. Book promotion, as it turns out, requires spending most of your time on email. Who knew?

3.30pm: I’m picking the kids up from school. They’re keen to run out of the gates and get home, but this is the first bit of social time I’ve had all day so I’m up for a chat with the other parents. The kids roll their eyes at me, and I at them, which sets the tone for the evening.

8pm: I read a story with the kids – I say it’s for their benefit, but I love kids’ books so it’s also fun for me – and say goodnight. This is the last time I’ll see them until morning …

… Ha! As if! I see them again at 8.05pm, 8.10pm, 8.12pm, 8.14pm, 8.19pm, 8.40pm and 9.30pm, as they come up with every excuse not to sleep. Have kids, they said.

10pm: I check my emails one last time in the hope that all of my story pitches and media requests have been lovingly accepted. They haven’t – but there’s always tomorrow. I’ll keep up the hope.

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The Hot 5

What’s your favourite thing about being a writer?
Daydreaming! It’s my very favourite thing to do, which got me into a lot of trouble in past jobs, but it’s now happily part of my job description.

Who are your favourite or most inspiring authors?
I’m inspired by those who can take a serious or tricky subject and turn it into something entertaining. My current favourites for that are Marian Keyes, Liane Moriarty, Celeste Ng and, more recently, Sally Hepworth.

What’s the hardest thing about the writing process?
I’ve been freelance writing for years, which means I write multiple articles every week. So the hardest thing about writing a book was sticking to the one idea for so long.

What’s your go to food or drink during writing?
The problem is, just about every type of food or drink goes well with writing. There’s just something about it that makes me very snack-ish. I’d like to say my go-to is veggie sticks but that would be a lie. While writing the first draft of this book, I was often found on the couch in the middle of the night with a block of chocolate (or two) and a bottle of red wine!

What’s your number one tip for aspiring authors?
Your skills can be worked on in writing all sorts of different types of writing, not just manuscripts. In freelancing, I learnt to hone the arts of finding a story angle, self-promoting and taking criticism, and this helped prepare me for the world of books. It doesn’t matter what you write, just write – it all helps.

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About Megan

Megan Blandford is author and prolific freelance writer. As a well-respected voice on mental health and parenting, Megan writes for The Age, Sunday Life, Essential Baby, Kidspot, SBS, Whimn, Daily Life, Body+Soul and Headspace. I’m Fine (and other lies) is her first book – and she’s started with the trickiest story of all: the things that mums never say out loud. Megan lives in north-east Victoria with her husband, two children and far too many animals. She is, currently, actually fine.

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