In the first of a series in partnership with Windows 10 on how to make it as a writer, Acting Features Director Corinne Redfern documents the highs and lows of day one on her journey to writing her first book - tablet in one hand and a cup of cold coffee in the other…
Every New Years, at midnight, I repeat the same mantra. ‘I’m going to stop biting my nails,’ I say. ‘I’m going to learn Spanish. And I’m going to write a book.’
Ten months on, and I’ve all but given up on the nail-biting for this year (journalism is stressful, don’t you know), and have just about recovered from wasting £120 on a three month Spanish course that taught me how to count to ten, the book-writing thing is still on my To Do list. Which is why I’ve decided to dedicate one day a week to getting it off the ground.
I’m not going in completely cold. I’ve got a plan (it’s a great plan), and I’ve got a desk chair that’s so pretty I feel inspired just by looking at it. I’ve heard that Windows 10 has some great features for writers, so I’ve upgraded, and also made my boyfriend promise to leave the house for 12 hours. Which has got to be enough time to write a chapter, right? Right?
The alarm on my smartphone goes off, and I manage to knock it off the bedside cabinet before going back to sleep.
This time I manage to knock the smartphone underneath the bed, where it lies, beeping, until I reluctantly crawl down and get it, alternately yawning and sneezing into the dust.
The kettle is on. As is one of my socks. I grab my Surface Pro 3, clip on the black keyboard and sit down, logging myself in with one hand – rubbing my eyes blearily with the other. Then I change my mind and log out again. This is my first day as A Grown Up Novelist. That calls for a special Novelist desktop. But first I’ll find my contact lenses.
I’ve created a desktop specifically for writing, and after pinning Word and Spotify in the bottom of my Start menu, I change the background to a picture of Charlotte Bronte. After all, if she can do this while disguised as a man and dying from Typhus, so can I.
The kettle still hasn’t boiled. I launch Microsoft Edge – the new Windows 10 browser that’s replacing Internet Explorer, and which my already-published best mate can’t stop raving about – and load the Amazon homepage. Spend the next 25 minutes ordering a new kettle.
I open a document that I started writing on my phone three days ago. Thankfully OneDrive has synced my files across all of my devices, so I can carry on where I left off without having to email it to myself. In an attempt to avoid self-editing, I’m trying not to reread my previous work, and instead opt for walking into the kitchen once more, and boiling some water on the hob.
It’s important to watch the water while it boils, just in case it overflows and goes everywhere. Or catches fire. Or something.
Sitting back down, I decide that I want to write the next 500 words of my chapter this morning. I close the Edge browser window, and get typing on Word instead. This is easy, I think.
Quick Facebook break. For inspiration.
Back to typing. Somehow I’ve ended up with a character who is currently experiencing a health issue that I have absolutely no knowledge about. Decide to be reckless and type around it, leaving rows of Xs to mark the gaps that I’ll fill in later.
I may as well have put a weight on the X key and gone back to bed for the last hour.
Reassess my approach, and conclude I need to do more research before trying to type anything. I load a series of medical websites, before switching to Reading Mode in Microsoft Edge, which reduces the page to its bare bones, so that I don’t get distracted by pictures and advertisements.
I forgot to drink my coffee. Should probably make more.
Finally stumble across some articles that are relevant to my characters, and use the annotation function in the browser to scribble some notes down the side, then save the pages to my reading list so that I can find them again easily in the future.
Realise I should check Twitter. Novelists are always on Twitter. Spend the next 43 minutes crafting a slightly smug status about how I’m A Novelist now, then delete it and write something about needing a cup of coffee instead.
Move into the bedroom for a change of scenery. Unclip the keyboard and use the touch screen instead. It’s a little bit trickier to type, but enables me to lie down, so it’s worth the compromise.
I’ve written 350 words, and only two of them come with the risk of being made up. Reward myself by resting my head on the pillow for a second.
Panic that my boyfriend is going to find me asleep on the bed (instead of touch typing at the kitchen table), and quickly jump in the shower. I feel particularly tired (being a novelist is hard work), so I ask my digital personal assistant, ‘Cortana’ to find me the menu for my local Indian takeaway. I clearly didn’t make it to the supermarket, and somehow – without any memory of it happening – I appear to have eaten the entire contents of my fridge.
Resume typing in anticipation of my boyfriend’s return home. Conveniently have a minor break through just as his key turns in the lock, and don’t look up as he walks in. Quietly congratulate self.
Order the takeaway and close Word. Catch Charlotte B staring at me from behind the computer screen and immediately feel guilty, so log out of that desktop and into my personal one.
Brainwave. My daily commute to the office is roughly 45 minutes long – time which I usually spend staring out the bus window half asleep, wishing I was doing anything else except staring out the bus window half asleep. So why not write my novel instead? It might be time to seek out some expert advice to get the most out of this…
Look out for part two next week, where I finally stop procrastinating and find out how you can write a book on your commute (yes, really).
To find out more about how to upgrade to Windows 10 visit windows.com/10
WATCH OUR ‘A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A NOVELIST’ VIDEO, IN PARTNERSHIP WITH WINDOWS 10: