Allison Tait describes herself as a ‘mother of two, wife of one and master of none’. She’s also one of those rare people who manages to make a healthy living from writing. How has she achieved this holy grail? By being both versatile, (she writes for magazines, newspapers and online publications), and also insanely productive (she’s written the entire trilogy of her adventure series for children, The Mapmaker Chronicles, in the past two years.) In addition to all of this, she’s authored four non-fiction books, currently has two children’s picture books and an adult novel in the works, co-hosts the Australian Writers’ Centre (AWC) podcast with Valerie Khoo and is a course presenter for the AWC too.
Whew! So what does a day in the life of this very busy soloist look like? Take it away Allison Tait!
I rise at the latest possible moment (7:15 am) that will allow me to get my two boys (8 and 11) out the door to school on time. As you can see, I’m not one of those early risers we all read so much about.
After making the school lunches I will always do a quick run-through of emails and social media to make sure there’s nothing urgent to be dealt with; then it’s time for the walk to school. Once the drop-off is done, myself and the lively border collie I lovingly refer to as ‘Procrasti-Pup’, (writers will understand), carry on for a while to burn off a bit of energy.
Just after 9 am sees me back at my desk and on this particular morning I’m scheduled to record an AWC podcast episode so I spend 20 minutes pulling together material for the program before Valerie and I start recording at 9:30 am.
My first opportunity to get some actual work done doesn’t arrive till around 10.30am and that work could be anything from copy for a client’s website to a 2000 word magazine feature article.
Around noon I take a break for lunch and will often use that break to read a chapter of whichever is the book of the month for the Pink Fibro Online Book Club (which I manage).
12:30 pm sees me taking another look through my social media platforms, updating Facebook and Twitter, and checking in on the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the Australian Writers’ Centre – something else I manage! I also double-check my current AWC online courses for queries and comments.
The last few precious hours before school pickup could see me doing a phone interview for a feature story I’m working on, finalising any of the several articles that are approaching deadline, or working on my own writing projects. Today I’m working on a picture book manuscript for which I have high hopes, so I’ve spent an hour reading it aloud, tweaking lines and generally driving myself crazy with it.
At 2:30 pm I close my computer and head out to pick up the boys. The rest of the afternoon is taken up with post-school activities, including swimming squad, but I take my iPad along and get some emails done during that time. Also in this window is dinner and a bit of a TV watching to quiet my brain.
Around 8:30 pm I prepare/schedule tweets and Facebook updates for the following day for the Australian Writers’ Centre accounts, and spend some time on Twitter chatting to AWC people. I then switch accounts and spend some time on my own accounts. Many of the people in my social media communities are ‘late nighters’ like I am, so there’s always someone around.
9:30 pm sees me redrafting my adult novel for the third time. These late hours of the night are perfect for editing … and quietly tearing my hair out as everyone sleeps around me.
Bedtime? That’s usually around midnight.
The biggest challenge I face in the average working week?
Time. I’d definitely be part of a lobby group for the 25th Hour In A Day. I find it incredibly difficult to fit everything in without encroaching too far into family life.
The reality of being a soloist?
I think that being the ‘wearer of all hats’ is very wearying sometimes. It’s easy to forget that you’re not an expert in accounting and IT before you go freelance – but you can’t forget that afterwards.
What keeps me going?
Quite simply, I love what I do. There’s no better motivation than that.