A Day in the Writing Life of ….M J Scott

Welcome Mel. Thank you for taking the time to participate in our blog and sharing a day in your writing life.

What time of the day do you write? Are you a morning, night-owl or anytime writer?     By preference I write in the afternoon and night.  I’m a night owl who would be a lot more nocturnal if it wasn’t for that pesky day job. I work part time so on those days, I write at night after work.  My brain doesn’t kick in early enough to write before work unless a book is really flowing. On non day job days I often start with the best intentions of doing a little in the morning but usually end up doing more admin stuff and housework and settling down to the wip in the afternoon.

Where do you write? Do you have your own special place? Does the location vary?      Mostly at my desk at home. At lunch at the day job when I can or when I need to.  I find writing in cafes etc distracting but will do it if I need to. If I get stuck, I’ll move locations, even if it’s just to a different room.   

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?      I’m a pantser who stops every so often to figure out the next bits. Often I’ll know the ending of the book so I’m at least vaguely writing towards something but sometimes (like the book I’m writing now) I don’t. I also write out of order if I get stuck and skip ahead to the next bit I can “see”. Then have to figure out how to get to that bit. I will jot down notes or a vague outline if I’m desperate. I find talking things through with one of my CPs helps more than making notes. I have written a synopsis before writing the book before but hate doing it. Luckily, so far my editor hasn’t asked for synopses!

I’m very much a crappy first draft gal.  I do a little editing as I go, when I’m reading over things to get back to where I was in the story at the start of a writing session or to figure something out but I don’t need it to be perfect to move on.  I need to write the story to figure out what would make it perfect, so I go back and revise afterwards.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? Are you a goal setter with your writing?     I try for a certain number of pages a week though lately I haven’t been tracking that as well as I should.  I do set goals, I’m a Virgo…we like goals and deadlines!

 What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer …..Most of the time I write at the computer. When I get a bit stuck I’ll try my Alphasmart, my netbook or long hand.  I write longhand on the train to and from the day job when I’m trying to pump up my wordcount or when a book is really flowing but always hate transcribing it at the end. I have terrible handwriting (just ask my CPs)!

 Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     I do a collage on my computer for each book. I use Curio, which is mind mapping (amongst other things) software, and just play with images. I generally have a stand in actor/actress to represent my hero and heroine but mostly for mood rather than them looking exactly lright.  Actually, more important to me than the collage is the music. I almost always write to music, so getting the soundtrack for the book right is essential. Which is why I adore iTunes and my iPod.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?     I definitely reward myself for finishing a book. Along the way I will use little rewards for meeting goals (or bribes if it’s going badly!).  And I track my wordcount, so I can see my progress, I find that encouraging. I read an article recently that said little rewards are really useful because they release dopamine which feels good which makes our brain want to repeat the behaviour that got us the reward!

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?      95% of the time it’s relatively messy.  Then it gets too bad and I have a wild clean up.

 What is your favorite form of procrastination? Do you have any tips to beat off that old foe “procrastination”?    

These days, it would be surfing the internet. Closely followed by reading and Angry Birds. My best tip is turning off the internet. I also use software that blanks out my screen from all programs other than the main one I’m using to write (Think) and Write or Die which makes you sit down and write in sprints.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Update my page count spreadsheet, make sure I’ve saved everything and make notes if I think I’ll need them. Then I probably tweet my progress for the day.

 My web address is http://www.mjscott.net.        My debut novel, Shadow Kin, is the first in a dark fantasy trilogy and will be out on 6 September 2011Again thank you Mel for participating.

Leave a comment


  1. Hi Mel, congrats on your book 🙂

    I too, write best at night, it’s like I have to finish everything else before my brain can think about writing. And good on you for sharing your desk photo, it’s about as tidy as mine!

  2. Hi Juliet

    Thanks! For me it’s not about finishing everything else per se, it’s just about when the brain kicks in best. But figuring out what works for you is the most important part. And yay, I am not alone in working in semi-chaos : )

  3. An interesting glimpse into your writing process. Thanks for sharing, Mel.

  4. Yay, I’m all for rewards as the story progresses, Mel. Makes motivation that much easier 🙂

    Can also relate to the dirty first draft. The editing and shaping is almost as much fun as the initial writing. Look forward to reading Shadow Kin in September.

  5. Thanks Janni and Helene : )

    I think I like drafting more than revising, Helene…though I do like the feeling when you really make a scene sing in revision! I write short first drafts so am resigned to much revising and adding stuff in on the subsequent drafts.

  6. Sorry I’m late Mel and yay another night owl – though you are right – it’s hard to do in this 9-5 world. 🙂

    Love the sound of Curio, I’ll have to check it out.

    Congrats on your upcoming release. Looking forward to it!!

  7. Curio is good fun Eleni. It can do a lot more than I know how to do with it lol


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