A Day in the Writing Life of … Rachel Bailey

Welcome, Rachel, and thank you for sharing a day in your writing life.

Where do you write?

I have a writing room, filled with bookcases and an old dining table that I use as a desk. The windows overlook trees that are often filled with birds – incredibly beautiful. I use a laptop with no internet connection, so once I’m in that room, I can’t check emails or browse the web.

What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write?

Turn on my iPod to play the soundtrack of the book I’m working on. The songs might be thematically linked, or evoke the mood I’m after. Since I play the same 30 or so songs over and over, they become like background music to me – I stop listening to the words and simply fall into the tone of that story. It also works as a cue – if I need to flick between stories because I’m revising an earlier one, or plotting a future one, the soundtrack clues in my subconscious and I’m immediately back immersed in that book.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I need to submit a synopsis to my editor, so I always plot to start with. Then I generally know what happens in each quarter of the book and I write a quarter at a time – I usually have one quarter out with CPs, then I polish it, while I’m writing raw words on the next quarter. I even keep the book in 4 documents (chaps 1-3; 4-6; 7-9; 10-12) until towards the end. It helps me keep the rhythm and pace of the story even.

What writing tools do you favour?

I write my raw words on my laptop then print out a double spaced chapter and flesh it out with handwritten notes on the printed page. Then I enter the changes on my laptop and tweak some more, then print it again and grab my red pen to edit. Repeat ad infinitum. It’s a slow process, but it works for me.

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help your creativity?

I always have a collage, with pictures that inspire the characters, colours, settings, motifs, etc. For example, for my latest book, Return of the Secret Heir, the collage (pictured left/right?) has pictures of actors who look like JT and Pia, baby booties because they lost a baby when they were teenagers, photos of New York, where the story takes place.

 I use the collage-making time at the start as part of my dreaming time, where I flesh out the characters and their story, but I also use it when I’m writing the book. Eg, when I’m wondering what my hero might say, I look at his face and I can hear his voice in my head. It’s also a place to let my eye wander when I’ve paused, and get extra inspiration.

 Can you name five objects that area always on or near your work desk while you write?

  • water
  • writing chocolate
  • various dogs (under the desk, behind my chair, sprawled in the doorway)
  • dog chocolate
  • a stack of in-trays filled with stuff related to the current book

Return of the Secret Heir, Silhouette Desire, Oct 11
What Happens In Charleston…, Silhouette Desire, Feb 12

Thanks, Rachel and all the best for your new release.

Leave a comment


  1. Hey Rach 🙂 Laughed when I saw you kept doggie chocs as well as people chocs on your desk. Hope you never grab the wrong ones! And your desk looks immaculate – please tell me you tidied just for the photo…

  2. Anita, there are some messy stacks just to the left of the photo – you can see their edges. 😉 But I do find I write better with clear space around the computer. Perhaps a feng shui thing? So I make messy piles etc at other places. *Lots* of other places.

  3. Juanita Kees

     /  October 14, 2011

    Wow, Rachel, you are wonderfully organised. Love your list of objects 😀 Chocolate is a definite must! Thanks for sharing your great writing rituals with us. RETURN OF THE SECRET HEIR is on my TBR list. Looking forward to reading it.

    Hi Suz 🙂

  4. Juanita, I can’t imagine a writing life without chocolate – my muse seems to demand it. Sounds like your muse is the same. 🙂 Hope you enjoy Return of the Secret Heir!

  5. Carol C

     /  October 14, 2011

    Love the view from your window. I’d be watching the birds all day! I haven’t tried using background music/themes yet (I share an office with DH) but I may try with headphones. I like that you can get straight back into the flow.

  6. Fun post, Rachel! I love the dog chocs and people chocs! And never the twain shall be mixed up! Also, I’m having a chuckle at the “writing” chocolate – sounds as though it’s for writers ONLY and you don’t have to share! Might try that at home here – can you picture it… “sorry, darling, that chocolate is for writers only!” LOL

    So pleased to read you had to have a bit of a clear on your desk… looking at my own messy thing and thinking more than a BIT of a clear needed here! AND I’m good at making piles in other spots around the house too!

  7. Oh wow, what a view, Rachel. Neat desk, and love the writing chocolate as opposed to reading chocolate, or lounging in front of the TV chocolate. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Lovely to learn more about you and your writing day, Rachel. I think I may have to adopt the doggie choc idea 🙂 Our staffy insists on playing for the first half hour when I sit down so maybe I can bribe him with chocolates!

  9. Hey Rachel…I’ve found you again. I was wondering….what is your writing chocolate? 🙂 🙂

    Nice to learn a little more about you.

  10. Hi Rachel,
    You live in such a beautiful part of Australia and it must be so inspiring to look out that window. Very jealous 🙂 Great to read more about the way you write. I need to take a leaf out of your book in just getting that first draft down without fussing endlessly over what I’ve just written.

  11. Hello lovely person. Muse mutts are the best, aren’t they 🙂

  12. Carol – I do! I often have to stop writing because something fascinating is happening in the trees. We have little birds with bright blue heads in those trees and they are beautiful and hilarious. They occasionally land on my fly screen and have arguments amongst themselves.

  13. Sharon, you should definitely try the “writing chocolate is only for writers” and see if it works for you. 😉

  14. Oh, yes, Eleni – lots of types of chocolate are needed in a house. For my watching TV chocolate, I like something with nuts, maybe, or a bit of honeycomb. Writing chocolate has to be pure chocolate though – nothing to stop and think about, just pure chocolatey goodness. 🙂

  15. Hi Helene! Dog chocs are certainly worth a try. I think mine are just in a routine now – writing dogs. 🙂 Comfy beds are useful too, so when they come into the writing room, they remember they love the bed / basket and head straight for it.

    I *love* staffys!

  16. Suz, I’m quite flexible with writing chocolate – a block of Cadburys is a fave – pre-broken into individual squares for easy picking. I also like chocolate covered sultanas (the healthy option ;)) Occasionally dh will pick up some other types of choc and I give it a go. I’m an equal opportunity chocoholic!

  17. Louise, you’re right – the view is inspiring! I love living in this part of the world.
    Yep, leaving that first draft as “good enough for now” is hard, but so worth it. Otherwise it can be difficult to finish.

  18. Jenn, I think a writing dog or cat is essential! And you’d already know all about that. 🙂

  19. Great post Rachel. And I never thought of the whole sultana in chocolate as being a heathy snack – but of course, fruit and dairy together – genius 🙂

  20. Helen, I’m good at finding dubious nutritional value in snack food. 😉


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