I would like to welcome Ben Kane, author of "Sparticus The Gladiator" to my blog today.
He has been gracious enough to allow us a peek into a day in the life of a writer. Take it away Ben!
Many thanks to Brenda here at WV Sticher for taking the time to read my new book, Spartacus, and for having me appear on her blog too. I chose the topic of a day in the life of a writer because I thought it might provide an interesting insight into how I write my books, and also provide a platform for subscribers/readers of this blog to share how they spend their days writing.
I could start by saying that I spend a lot of time prevaricating, networking on social media and being very inefficient, but that would only be 50% true! Yet my writing time is now totally different to what it was even a year ago, and that was different to how I wrote five years ago. I’ll start at the beginning and describe how it evolved.
When I started writing, I was working fulltime as a veterinarian in a small animal practice, a job that I did for sixteen year in total. Once I got into a routine of writing, which did take a while, I would use all my spare time to write. I wrote in my car during my lunch break, in the office above the surgery, even on the operating table sometimes (not at the same time as I was operating!). Any time during my weekends ‘on call’ were spent reading Roman textbooks or writing; so too were most of my free weekends. To say I became obsessive is putting it mildly.
After about three years writing, I began submitting my manuscript to literary agents. Three refusals were disheartening, but then I got the lucky break of a personal introduction to one – Charlie Viney, the man who is still my agent today. Once I signed up with him, my writing time increased further. Still working as a veterinarian, I got married and we had our first child. During the subsequent eighteen months, I easily notched up 80-90 hours’ work per week between my veterinary job and writing. Monday to Friday, I would get up at 4.45 a.m., write for two hours before I went to work. I wrote between the end of each day’s operations and the start of evening consultations. I’d write for ten to twelve hours a day at weekends. It’s fortunate that my wife met me when I was already writing, but she is still a very understanding person!
In August 2007, I landed a three book deal with Random House, the largest publisher in the world. Life changed again. Now I had to write a book every twelve months – as well as work full time. It was really hard work, working the same sort of hours as I had for the previous year and a half, but with the pressure of a deadline added in. When my first novel, The Forgotten Legion, was published, I made the concession of going part time as a veterinarian. I couldn’t keep working those insane hours forever. My second book was difficult – as it is for many writers, I suspect. I ended up rewriting 25% of it – twice! The time that took meant that I went over my deadline, and I took the mad leap of faith of giving up my job as a veterinarian. We couldn’t really afford to do it, but I was no longer able to do two jobs full time and have any quality time with my family.
It was the best decision I’ve ever made. At last I was free to write every day, to immerse myself in the ancient world, and to do something that I absolutely adored. I am lucky enough to have an office in our wooden garage, and that has been where I have written my last four books. Once I started doing it full time, I developed a routine of having breakfast, and getting out to my office by 9 a.m. at the latest. I would write until 11, have a coffee, and continue until 1, break for lunch and then continue until maybe 6 p.m. That worked fine until my son started walking, talking etc. When my daughter came along in 2009, life got even busier. This also tied in with my career starting to take off. Suddenly, I was getting emails from readers all over the world, requests from my publisher for extra material, or to appear at library or bookshop signings. I also managed to get myself into events at Roman sites all over Britain where I could sell my books and raise my profile. These were all the things I had dreamed of as an aspiring writer, but they ate and ate into my writing time! In addition, I got involved in the set up in late 2010 of The Historical Writers’ Association (www.thehwa.co.uk) and my writing time took a further nosedive. Last year, my daily word count was suffering badly. I had to become even more disciplined about taking time to write – with no electronic interruptions. I also discovered the Pomodoro Technique, which has been the salvation of my writing. It’s really simple: write for 25 minutes, with no interruptions at all; take 5 minutes break, in which you can do what you wish; repeat.
Currently, that’s working well, but given the way my writing time has changed in just five years, I wouldn’t be surprised if I have to find another method at some stage in the future!
About "Spartacus The Gladiator"
Today we know very little about Spartacus the man – partly because contemporary Roman historians were keen not to eulogise his successes. This of course is grist to the novelist’s mill.
I would like to thank Ben for dropping by my blog today.If you would like to learn more about Ben or any of his books click here to check out his web page, follow on twitter, or connect via facebook.