Libby Malin is the author of the soon-to-be-released romantic comedy FIRE ME (Sourcebooks) and the 2005 chick lit novel LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT (Harlequin). Writing as Libby Sternberg, she’s the author of four teen mysteries, the first of which was an Edgar finalist. A Baltimore native, she now lives in Lancaster, PA. More info about her can be found at www.LibbysBooks.com
What is a day like for a professional writer?I usually rise early (by six) and linger over coffee and chatting with my husband before he goes to work, reading the Wall Street Journal (our son writes for the Asian edition) and watching morning news. By eight, I’m ready to tackle the day’s tasks. If I have any freelance writing assignments, I might start on them, either organizing the work or actually beginning to contact folks I need to interview for articles, etc. Because I bill by the hour, I carefully note the time spent on these tasks in an ever-present ledger.
_If I’m writing a book, I might carve out several mornings where I start work on that project—my best writing time is usually in the morning. If I’m on a deadline—for example, if I have a full manuscript due to an editor by a certain date—I make sure to stick to a daily page quota.
_I usually quickly review what I wrote the day before, maybe tweaking it but not doing a full-fledged edit, and then plow forward.
_If I stall, I try to figure out why. If it’s because I’m unsure of direction, I might write in one direction anyway, just to get something on the page. I will write notes to myself in ALL CAPS, things like INCREASE TENSION BETWEEN CHARACTER X AND Y or something similar that I know will need to be included.
_If I’m in the editing stage of a manuscript, things move pretty quickly and I can find myself at the computer almost all day, with short breaks, usually because I’m too excited about the project to leave it.
_I will make notes on paper as I go – characters’ names and descriptions (I don’t want to have one start the novel with blue eyes and finish it with green!), important plot points and maybe even timelines (to make sure I don’t include eight-day weeks).
_I usually do at least three edits. If I have a book about to be released, I devote a portion of my days to actual promotional tasks, such as writing blog entries for the “virtual tour” set up by the publicist, cleaning up my personal mailing lists and preparing a mailing of promotional postcards, setting up a book-signing, etc.
_Finally, in the afternoons I will read….but not for pleasure! I read manuscripts for a publisher, making recommendations for purchase. So I’ll set up my laptop in my sunny living room, put a small notebook and pen nearby to jot down observations, and start reading!