What a pleasure it is to feature prolific rural romance and life-lit author, Rachael Johns on A Day in the Life of a Writer. Welcome Rachael!
Rachael Johns is an English teacher by trade, a mum 24/7, a chronic arachnophobic, and a writer the rest of the time. She rarely sleeps and never irons. A lover of romance and women’s fiction, Rachael loves nothing more than sitting in bed with her laptop and electric blanket and imagining her own stories.
Rachael has finaled in a number of competitions, including the Australian Romance Readers Awards. Jilted won Favourite Australian Contemporary Romance in 2012. The Patterson Girls won the 2016 Romance Writers of Australia RUBY Award and also the 2015 Australian Book Industry Award for General Fiction.
Rachael lives in the Perth Hills with her hyperactive husband, three mostly-gorgeous heroes-in-training, a ginger cat, a cantankerous bird and a very badly behaved dog.
A Day in the Life of Rachael Johns
6.45am – my alarm clock goes off way before I’m ready to be awake (not a morning person). Usually I press snooze a few times and then finally pull myself out of bed at around 7am to make sure the kids are eating something reasonably healthy for breakfast, make lunches (a task I LOATHE; one of the only good things I can see about school holidays is that I don’t have to do it), yell at everyone to hurry up, keep their voices down (cos hubby is sleeping – he works very late; of course the being quiet doesn’t apply to me) and find their shoes (why does someone lose their shoes EVERY day?) and then drive my three little cherubs to their various schools.
8.30am – I’m home, it’s peaceful, thank the Lord! There’s a house full of mess – washing, dirty dishes, dog hair all over the floor that I probably only mopped yesterday and that’s just the beginning. I ignore it all and head into the blissful peace and quiet of my writer’s cabin. It’s such a luxury to be able to ignore the mess of the house and get straight to work. At least that’s the theory, but it takes time to get me in the writing zone. Creative genius can’t be rushed! I start on my treadmill desk, checking emails, Facebook, Twitter etc. The plan is to do half an hour and then get stuck in to writing my actual book.
Rachael’ gorgeous writing cabin (I want one!)
9.30am – OMG I’ve been on my treadmill for an hour! How did that happen? Feel guilty have not started writing but virtuous that I’ve been exercising while faffing. I bought the desk to help my bad back from cramping up with too much sitting – it’s for health purposes not weight loss purposes, but I do work up a sweat and wonder why I’m not skinny when I walk this much every-day? Maybe it’s the Tim Tam I’m already craving. Surely I deserve one after all that walking. Go into the house, get Tim Tam and Diet Coke – every write needs sustenance. Now I’m really to really get started.
9.45am – I haven’t checked Facebook, Instagram, email or my Amazon rankings for over fifteen minutes. Better remedy that. Oh and Goodreads too, can’t forget GR. I check GR and either jump for joy at a good review or plunge to the depths of writerly despair after reading a bad one. Whinge to my writing group (we have an online FB group) that I am an imposter. Obviously reviewer is correct and my writing is pedestrian at best. Decide success is the best revenge but start stressing that the day is getting away from me and I still haven’t written a word. I ask my online writing group if anyone wants to sprint. One or two people are available. We ponder when we should start. Most of us require a pee break or a tea break and all of us need time to get in the zone. We decide on 10.15am.
10.10am – Realise I need to start writing in five minutes. Open current manuscript and start skimming through from the beginning. Yep – you read that right. Even if I’m 80k in, I have to do a quick skim through. This takes way longer than five minutes. I join the sprint late (at about 10.35) and madly write for the remaining time.
10.45-12.45 – More sprinting with my friends. I aim for 1-2k words a day and although I don’t always reach my goal, sprinting with my writing buddies ALWAYS helps. Maybe it’s that competitive streak I’ve got. More Diet Coke is usually consumed as well. Sometime during these hours my hubby comes into the cabin to say goodbye (he’s off to work). I think about how I should have spent some time with him before he left (or at least exchanged more than the few sentences we manage) and resolve to do better tomorrow.
1pm – Make lunch – anything from an omelette or leftovers to a toasted sandwich or cereal. Really depends how lazy I’m feeling. Spend more time faffing around on the internet while eating.
1.20pm – Take Rose, my Maremma sheepdog, for a walk. Or rather a drag. She likes the idea of walking but five minutes in, she’s had enough. But we both need the exercise so I persist. Usually during my dog walk I listen to podcasts – often about books and interviews with other authors – or I Vox with my writing friends. (N.B Voxer is an awesome and dangerous voice messenger app) In the absence of podcasts or Voxer, I also find walking really good for brainstorming or solving plot problems.
2pm – Home for a quick shower before heading to first school pick-up. Usually I get there early and read a book. This time and just before bed are the only times I manage to fit reading into my day and sadly by the time I get to bed in the evening I’m usually too tired to read for long. Also sadly, I often end up Voxing during this afternoon time rather than actually reading, but hey I’m talking writing with my friends so that’s practically working, right?
3.30pm – Depending on the day of the week it’s after school activities or we come home and have a nutritious snack, talk civilly about our days and then do homework and music practise without one harsh word or argument! Oh whoops, I’ve descended into fantasy. We come home, I search the cupboard for something that still looks edible to feed the kids, then argue with my middle child about how long he gets to jump on the trampoline before getting his homework out of the way. I should listen to my youngest read (it’s part of his homework and my parental duty) but hey, he’s been reading since he was four and who has time for that? I tell him to read to himself and I’ll listen while folding washing and doing the housework I should have done earlier.
5pm – It’s wine time! Honestly, I barely used to drink at all but the older my kids get and the more books I write, the more I require the good drink. I sip my wine, chat to my oldest who is still doing his homework (he’s way more studious than I ever was) and try to channel my inner Nigella Lawson as I wonder what to make for dinner?
Did someone say Wine Time?
5.30pm – Who am I kidding? I make spag bol, tacos or fry some sausages and while cooking I think about my book. Pretty much, I’m thinking about my book and my characters ALL the time, whether I want to be or not.
6pm – 8.15pm – feed everyone, encourage showers, feed everyone again, watch the kid news with my boys (aside from Twitter, it’s the only news I get, but who wants to know about all the horrid things happening in the world anyway?), encourage teeth-brushing and then usher them into bed.
8.15pm – I might fail on many motherly duties throughout the day, but this is my favourite time of the day, where I sit down with my boys and read to them. Yep – the oldest is thirteen and I even still read to him. We just finished Jasper Jones and both of us marvelled at the beautiful prose. With my youngest two we’ve just read The Secret Garden and are now reading an ARC of Nevermoor – a perk of knowing folks in publishing!
9pm – the house is finally quiet. Kids are in bed (if not asleep) and hubby is still at work. I fold some washing, do a few little house jobs and then contemplate a bit more work. I should catch up on emails, answer comments on social media, maybe write that promo blog post I need to do. If I do all this stuff tonight, then tomorrow I can get stuck straight into the writing. But alas, I’m exhausted. How I ever used to write at night I have NO idea. I make a Milo (or pour another glass of wine) and head to bed with a book, vowing that tomorrow I’ll be a better mum, a domestic goddess, write way more words than I managed today and stay up late enough to welcome my husband home.
Tomorrow I’ll do everything better, but tonight, I just want to sleep.
10pm/11pm/2am/4.30am – Why can’t my brain just switch off?
Rachael’s Favourite Thing About Being a Writer
The ability to play God with character’s lives – in my first ever book (unpublished and never to see the light of day) I killed off my first love and it was SUCH good therapy. It’s not always an easy job (okay hardly ever) but there are a lot of perks – getting to work from home, not having to wear make-up, hanging out with fellow writers (who have become friends) at writer’s conferences, seeing covers for the first time and getting reader emails telling me my book has made someone’s day! Sorry, I know you said one thing but I’ve never been that great at following the rules!
Connect With Rachael
Website – www.rachaeljohns.com
Twitter – @RachaelJohns
Instagram – RachaelJohnsRomance
Rachael’s latest life-lit novel is THE GREATEST GIFT, which I reviewed here.
Stay tuned next week for the final instalment in the current series of ‘A Day in the Life of a Writer’. Who will it be?
And if you’ve missed any of the writers I’ve featured you can read them all here.