The Man Booker-longlisted author on why she gave up writing in the early hours, the benefits of a good walk and why Twitter during work is a no-no The day begins with the alarm at 8.30 and then commences the great struggle: wake up or go back to sleep. I am by nature a nocturnal person; the hours between midnight and 3am are when the world feels almost enchanted in its stillness, and writing comes most easily. Through my 20s, I wrote at night – 10pm to 4am. If I were a different kind of person, one who could shut out both the world and myself, in order to work I would still be writing during those hours. But my life requires both solitude and sociability, and in the interest of the latter I have to reshape the ways in which I interact with the former. So, no more writing into the early hours of the morning. The alarm rings; I struggle with myself; I get out of bed. (How long this process takes is entirely dependent on how keen or not I am to get to my writing desk). Into the kitchen for a cup of coffee, and stop along the way to pick the Guardian off the doormat. Drink coffee; read paper. (How long this process takes is entirely dependent on how keen or not I am to get to my writing desk). Then I change into something comfortable verging on unviewable by the outside world. I read what I’ve written the day before, read it out loud to see if the ear might pick up flaws and failures that the eye can’t see. This is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a form of procrastination.
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