My writing day varies depending on where I am in the world. When I’m at home in Sydney I usually work in my study. It looks out onto two sunny courtyards and across to the upper storey of a beautiful Queen Anne style home. Some days if I’m editing I might walk up to one of the local coffee shops and work there – I like to be around the hum of people depending on what stage of the writing process I’m at.
I start my day with a skinny latte but try to limit myself to one coffee, so after that I’ll have one or two cups of tea.
I’m usually at my desk by 8am and often work until 6pm. I’ve only been writing full-time for two years and one thing I’ve found problematic is my lack of movement! I have to make sure that I get up and walk every half hour or so. To that end I investigated a brilliant standing desk arrangement last year. It has a large flexible arm to hold the computer screen and keyboard so you can adjust it to a sitting position and then push it up so you can stand. The negative impact of sitting for long periods is frightening, apart from the inevitable weight gain, so I hope the standing desk will work for me.
My deadlines are very tight so I seem to be chasing my tail a lot of the time, hence the long work hours. I try to set word limits and if I achieve what I’m aiming for, I’ll call it a day – although that usually means calling it a day on the writing and attending to the admin instead. I’m not complaining though as I love what I do and after twenty years of being in school, shackled to timetables and term dates, my life now is incredibly flexible by comparison.
My touring schedule is busy too so I’m often writing while I’m on the road. I’ve taught myself to write in hotels, on aeroplanes and trains and in all manner of coffee shops and restaurants. Recently I was finishing the edit for my 11th Alice-Miranda title, Alice-Miranda At the Palace, which is set at the fictional Evesbury Palace (based on real life Chatsworth). My husband surprised me with a week-long stay in the Hunting Tower on the Chatsworth Estate, which is where a good deal of my imagined action takes place. It was incredible to be sitting in the tower looking out over the estate and tweaking the last parts of the book.
I love writing with a view of the ocean too. When I first started writing the Alice-Miranda series I was still working full-time in school, so we would go for ‘holidays’ which were really writing retreats to a place called Port Macquarie on the mid north coast of New South Wales. It’s a beautiful spot. I find looking out at the sea particularly calming and it seems to have a very positive influence on my productivity levels. We bought a unit there last year but we’ve rented it out at the moment as we just don’t have time to use it. One day I plan on it being my permanent writing retreat with a stunning view out over the Pacific Ocean.
If I’m between books (which never seems to be the case at the moment) my writing day is still busy, answering emails, writing interviews, planning events and keeping my website updated including creating the monthly newsletter.
Jacqueline Harvey knew she wanted to be an author at a young age. She couldn’t say exactly when, but winning a minor writing competition as a teenager inspired her to think that maybe, sometime in the future, she might be able to write books. It wasn’t until November 2012, that Jacqueline took the giant step away from a 20 year career in schools as a teacher, Deputy Head of Junior School and most recently, Director of Development, to become a full-time writer. Jacqueline lives in Sydney with her husband Ian and is currently working on more Alice-Miranda and Clementine Rose adventures. She relishes any opportunity to get back into school and work with the children who inspire her writing. In her spare time she likes to play golf in exotic locations.
For more information on Jacqueline, visit her website: http://jacquelineharvey.com.au
Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.