A Day in the Life of author James Mace
Though I make a comfortable living as an author, my daily life may not be quite what one envisions when they think of the stereotypical writer. I do live by myself in a decent house; however, while it is commonly thought that authors are introverted and sometimes reclusive by nature, I find that I am the exact opposite. A friend told me once that he cannot believe I’m a writer, because I’m the most outgoing person he knows. I confess that working from my house can make this a difficulty, because if I’m not careful, I can go days without any sort of human interaction at all. I’m sorry, but email, texting, and Facebook don’t count. So what does a ‘typical’ day look like for James Mace? Well, aside from drill weekends with the Army Guard, and my summer holidays to Europe, it might look something like this:
7:30 to 9:00 (varies) - Wake up. Okay, so I know you want to have a good sleep routine, and some days, especially in winter, it is difficult to leave my warm bed. But the nice thing about being a self-employed author is you can be more flexible on your get-up time. Shave, shower, brush teeth, the usual things that any self-respecting individual does first thing.
Unless there is something pressing, I will head downstairs to make breakfast, feed the cats (yes, I’m a cat person), take my vitamins and other supplements. One stereotype I seem to buck here is that I don’t drink coffee. I know many writers, and people in general, who need their liquid fix first thing; I’m just not one of those. About the only time I do drink coffee is during drill weekends with my Army Guard unit. Breakfast is almost always eggs, bacon, with a protein shake for later in the morning. And while my breakfast is cooking, I’ll have a glass of vegetable juice and a bowl of raw spinach.
After breakfast I’ll log on and check my email, Facebook, Twitter, as well as glance at sales rankings and any new reviews for my books. As I am currently writing my eighth book, I have a bit to keep an eye on. If the Muse is cooperating, I’ll get some work done on my next novel.
Around 10:30 I down my morning protein shake and get my workout clothes on. I live just outside of Boise, and the gym I do CrossFit at is clear across town. There are others much closer I can use; however, I have friends who use this particular facility and I like the people that work out with me there. That’s my extroverted nature coming out. At 11:00 I head to the gym. Usually I will do about a mile on the treadmill and a few minutes on the rowing machine to warm up. We then subject ourselves to whatever brutality the CrossFit instructor throws at us. Last year I competed in the Spartan Races, a series of savage obstacle courses ranging from three to fifteen miles, and I look to use this program to greatly improve my performance this coming season. My first competition this year will be the Las Vegas Super Spartan in April, so my training during the offseason is crucial.
Around 1:00 I head home, and after a shower, a post-workout shake, and light lunch, I sit back down in the office, check for any email or social media updates, and get back to work. A high-intensity workout gets the blood flowing, both to the muscles as well as the brain, and while my body continues to cool down, I find that I can often do some of my best creative writing during this time. This is also the time when I will check and see how my actual sales are looking. I admit I am a bit obsessive about this, but of course since this is how I make my living, one cannot exactly fault me for it. I check Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Kobo eReader, as well as my print sales via CreateSpace. Barring any other commitments, I then return to my work.
Something that is an ever-present part of my writing is music. This is actually a little tricky. I need to make certain that whatever I listen to does not become a distraction from my writing. This is why music with lyrics is often avoided, unless I keep it turned down low. Also, even though my passion is Heavy Metal, I do need to have something playing that is relevant to whatever I am working on. Example: When writing my novel about Waterloo, “I Stood With Wellington”, I listened to instrumental or baroque music from the time period. As much as I love Iron Maiden, it just does not go with the genre. Mind you, when working on my Soldier of Rome books, anytime there is a battle scene being written, you can bet I will have something crushing and brutal playing in the background. I’m willing to bet that my typing speed also increases during this time. About the only type of music you will never hear me play is country. It simply does not work for me…ever! And if I’m feeling really eccentric, usually when writing at night, I may throw on some oldies. You would not believe what I have written when listening to Bobby Darin or Paul Anka! A good failsafe is a solid composer like Hans Zimmer or Basil Poledouris.
Afternoons and evenings are often a time for meeting up with friends, as well as the ever-hopeful lunch / dinner date. In the summer months I’ll often take my bike onto the Boise Greenbelt, or go for a jog in the foothills. Monday nights I usually hit the trails with my running club, the Boise Hash House Harriers; that is when the weather is not so cold!
Since I don’t have a set schedule for working, I may do some writing at night. Some of my best work has come after the sun falls, under the soft glow of a lamp, with inspiring instrumental music filling in the gaps of time and space. At 10:15 I check my final sales figures for the day. Don’t ask me why I chose 10:15, that is just what I do. I suppose if I wanted to be really daring, I could go with 10:17.
It is then time to shut down the computer, do my evening hygiene, climb into my ever-comfortable king size bed, and try and do a bit of reading before drifting off to sleep.
Keep in mind that my days are often filled with other commitments, though about the only thing I am not flexible on is my workout time. Example: the week I am writing this, I am having lunch with a close friend from the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, meeting with a lady from the Jane Austen Society, who want me to do a presentation for them on the Napoleonic Wars, having a release party for my latest book, and there may be a dinner date worked in as well. All in all, it is a good life and I would not change it for going back to the proverbial Rat Race.