For as long as I’ve been working as a writer full-time, I’ve kept a regular routine. I start work the minute I get in from the school run. Once the computer is up and running, I start on the work in progress, aiming for a thousand words. There’s a tea break at ten-thirty, helped along by a bit of cake or chocolate, of course! Then I work on until lunchtime. That’s generally around one o’clock. A quick read-through of what I’ve done during the day, and then I take a walk. Until this year that could be a ramble of up to three miles, finishing at the local school in time to meet my son for the walk home. Then in March this year I got cellulitis and reactive arthritis in quick succession. For a long time a walk of one hundred yards was practically impossible, much less the ten thousand steps I used to aim for each day. Stuck at home, what’s a woman to do? Trying to take my mind off the aches and pains, I spent more time sat at the computer. The harder I tried to work, the more difficult it became. So then I hit the comfort food in a big way. Oh, dear. The more cake and chocolate I ate, the faster my clothes shrank. I bought a new dress for the Mills and Boon Centenary party in February this year, and what a horrible shock when I came to try it on for the Authors’ London lunch in September! From being a little bit too big in spring, autumn found it rather, er, snug here and there.
That was a wake up call. Luckily Michelle Styles, who writes historical fiction for Mills and Boon, happened to say that her new rowing machine is a great aid to inspiration. Exercise helps her think. Then I got chatting to Carol Mortimer, who was so enthusiastic about her new project that she really inspired me. All it needed then was for Michelle Reed to tell me that when the work is going well she writes without a thought for time-tables or word counts. Now I’m feeling better, I’ve started walking again – power-walking this time, so it’s more like real exercise. That kick starts the inspiration, so by the time I get back to my desk in the morning I’m raring to go. And hooray - my waistband isn’t digging in quite so much today.
Let’s hope my new burst of enthusiasm can combat Gloucestershire’s dreary November weather, or it’ll be back to the comfort food!