A Day in the Writing Life of … Amanda Ashby

Today we welcome, Amanda Ashby, who writes young adult and mid-grade books about killer fairies, zombie students and troublesome djinns.

What time of the day do you write?    I write whenever I can fit it in. When my kids were babies I mainly wrote at night but now they are in school I tend to do most of my writing during the day. Except of course when I’m on deadline and then everything changes!!

 Where do you write?   I’m an orphan! I’ve never had a proper study so it’s basically me and my laptop! Most of the time I use the kitchen table but when I lived in NZ I spent a lot of time sitting on my bed because it was the sunniest spot in the house, so I guess you could say that I’m like a cat!!!!

Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?   Not really. My books are always on my mind so by the time I sit down to write, I normally know what I want to do. I do use playlists though, which I find really helps me capture the mood and the feel of the book.

What’s the first think you do before you begin to write?     Like most writers, I have a bad habit of checking my emails. Especially since my publisher and agent are in the US so lots of things can happen overnight (not saying that they always do, but why ruin a perfectly good excuse with the truth?!)

 Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work?     Yes, I always read over the previous day’s work and check I’m happy with it before moving on. Which of course sounds very civilized but since I do a LOT of rewriting, it often involves scraping the previous day’s work and starting again (which means I then have to try and recapture yesterday’s word count as well as the current day’s word count).

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?     I’m a panster who desperately wants to be a plotter! This means that I try very hard to be organized and figure everything out, but then my organic panster side takes over and keeps coming up with new shiny ideas. Because of this I’m always editing and redoing things and I basically HATE when people talk about fast drafting because while I’m thrilled for them that they can get through a manuscript so neatly, unfortunately that way doesn’t work for me.

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time?      I aim to write 2000 words a day when I’m working on a new book and sometimes I might get that in an hour or two and other times I’m still up at midnight desperately trying to squeeze the words out so I can go to sleep!!

What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer …..I use both! I write directly onto my laptop but I’m a big fan of long hand and do a lot of my brainstorming and plotting by pen. Also, I’m not sure what it is but the moment I turn off my laptop I tend to get a load of new ideas, so I’m constantly writing myself notes (and I then spend far too much time trying to decipher my messy writing!!!)

Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity?     If it’s been invented, then there is a good chance that I’ve tried it, but unfortunately none of it has really stuck with me. However, one thing I have been using for a couple of years and I still really love is OneNote, which is in Microsoft Office. It’s just a way to easily see a lot of notes and documents at once so that’s where I keep all of my character notes and research. Plus, while I’m hopeless at doing real collages, I will often put lots of digital images there to help prompt me.

Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals?     Yes, I reward myself with the joys of housework and cooking dinner and any other task that I have been ignoring in order to get my work done. Actually, I think I might need to rethink this ritual…

Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc?     I don’t tend to sit down for long periods of time because I get easily bored (and always feel the need to check the cupboard in case chocolate has magically appeared since the last time I looked). I also make sure I walk each day so that I don’t get too sedentary.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?      Pink is the New Blog is my favourite procrastination! It’s a gossip blog and I’ve been reading it for years. Anyway, normally when I have a writing break that’s the place I head to!

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?     Rip out some hair and swear that I will do a better job tomorrow!!!!!

 Thank you, Amanda, for kindly sharing a day in your writing life. Please visit, Amanda’s website for more information about her books.


Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic book 1 Wishful Thinking ~Puffin ~June 2012

Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic book 2 Under a Spell ~Puffin ~June 2012

Sophie’s Mixed-Up Magic book 3 Out of Sight ~Puffin ~ September 2012

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  1. Hi Amanda,
    It’s nice to read about someone who flies by the seat of their pants. And who rewrites like a mad woman. I can relate to that.

    Congratulations on your continued success. The ‘Sophie’s’ series looks like it’s loads of fun. I must check it out.

  2. I loved reading this, Amanda. So much of it sounds like me (the re-reading, re-writing and checking for chocolate parts, particularly. So looking forward to seeing you in August!

  3. Hi Shayne,
    Thank you for your lovely comments! I always get ridiculously happy when I meet people who have the same process as me – not that I would wish it on anyone. I’ve spent so much time trying to change the way I write, but it turns out that crazy is the only way I can do things!

  4. Imelda – yay – any re-writing, chocolate searching person is a friend of mine! And yes, roll on August! I can’t wait to meet you!!!

  5. Beck

     /  April 27, 2012

    Great interview. Can’t wait for Sophie’s release. Chocolate and email procrastination work for me too. Speaking of which… *heads off to the kitchen*

  6. Thanks Beck (and I hope you found some chocolate!!!)


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