Vanessa is one of my longest online writing friends. I’ve watched her grow from her freelance writing days, through to becoming a writing coach, and then, best of all, having her first novel published earlier this year. Vanessa is such a wonderful supporter of other writers, and is selfless when it comes to sharing her wealth of knowledge. And, she is a wonderfully talented author! So please, a big cheer for Vanessa, as week take a birds-eye look into her writing day.
Vanessa Carnevale is an author and freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia, where she lives with her husband and two children. The Florentine Bridge, her first novel, was published by Harlequin MIRA in 2017. Her second book, The Memories That Make Us, will be released in March 2018. She loves travel, tea, and flowers, and often dreams of escaping to the country.
A Day in the Life of Vanessa Carnevale
I have two set writing days a week. I recently redecorated my writing space so it’s now truly a place I love working in. I usually always light a candle or turn the essential oil diffuser on when I’m in this space.
When I’m working on a first draft, I try to write as frequently as possible, which often means squeezing the writing into whatever time I have. So that means writing on my phone or tablet in the car while waiting for my son at soccer training, or my daughter at her sewing lessons.
Here’s a typical writing day:
5:30am or 6:00am If I have a deadline or a particular busy week, I’ll set the alarm clock nice and early in order to fit in an extra hour or so of work. Otherwise, if I’m happy with how things are progressing, I’ll set the alarm for 7:00 am!
7:00am Get up. Get the fuzzies when my husband hands me my coffee. (He truly does this most mornings and I adore him for it.) Get the fuzzies again if he’s taken the initiative to make school lunches. (We usually take it in turns but there isn’t really a roster. Just depends who gets to the kitchen first and who’s in the mood. Teamwork!) All the morning things. Throw on a load of washing. Wash breakfast dishes. Make beds. Quickly vacuum. Urge children to brush their teeth, get their shoes on. Repeat the same requests over and over until it’s finally 8:30 am and it’s a final call for the front door. Phew! Jump in the car. Make one final check as to whether child’s teeth really are brushed. Send child back inside to brush (if required).
8:45 am Enter house. Turn the kettle on. Make tea. Go to desk. Check emails, and catch up on social media tasks. I find it really hard to focus on writing when the house needs attention which is why I do as many chores before I leave for the school run to drop off the kids. This way, when I come home it’s all done and I can go straight to my workspace as if I’m entering the office in a corporate job.
Vanessa’s stunning new home office
Mid-morning Get up to make another tea. Go outside for some fresh air, pick some flowers (I always like to have fresh flowers on my desk and around the house). Check emails, tend to various social media. Continue writing or alternate with other tasks like preparing workshop content, or making behind-the-scenes preparation for a writing retreat I’m hosting or planning to host. Lots of hours of work goes into this part of my life.
3:00pm onwards Before I know it it’s time for the kids to be picked up from school and then I’m usually on the run from four o’clock onwards. After school snacks, unpacking bags, and then driving to the various sports and activities we have on during the week.
I don’t tend to do a lot of writing at night unless it’s really necessary, but I do read before bed or while the rest of my family are watching TV!
Of course there are always variations on the above because no matter how hard I try to stick to routine, I’m often pulled in different directions according to what’s going on at any given time. A child might get sick and need to stay home, or my publisher might need me to work on something for them, or edits might arrive a little early. There’s a lot of self-discipline needed in this kind of work, but also good time management. For me, beautiful, perfect, harmonious balance is elusive so I just do the best I can in the time I have and accept that even without rigid routines, somehow everything always manages to get done in time.
I’m also a big fan of writing weekends away, which is a luxury, but one I like to prioritise. So usually, with every new book I work on, I make the time to have at least a couple of nights away while I work on a first draft. This really helps my creative process thanks to the uninterrupted writing time. Earlier this year I made a trip to the Sunshine Coast for a weekend away with author, Josephine Moon. It was lovely to be able to share time together, throw ideas around, brainstorm and so on. This is a gorgeous way to re-energise in great company and get lots of work done!
Vanessa’s Favourite Thing About Being a Writer
It brings me joy! I really love being able to express myself creatively and I love the whole idea of being able to create a story out of nothing. It’s such a thrill seeing characters and settings come to life on the page, especially when they surprise me. It’s not always easy but it’s the best job ever.
Connect with Vanessa
The Memories That Make Us (Coming March 2018)
Thank you so much Vanessa. Again, it was a pleasure having you on my blog.
There are only two more authors coming up in this first series of A day in the Life of a Writer. Stay tuned, because they are big!