The Chase is a modern The Fugitive with characters only #1 New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Candice Fox can write. Check out what Candice has to say in regards to her writing routine and what it’s like to be an author juggling everyday responsibilities!
I get asked a lot what a typical day looks like for a writer like me. I put out about two books every 18 months, and I’m currently juggling tv and film adaptation deals and obligations. Truth is, I’ve never been a terribly consistent writer. I’ve never really had a routine. And having had a child two and a half years ago, my day-to-day has never been so crazy. So let me try to explain the chaos of my world to you.
I’m typically a morning worker. Since I was a kid, I’ve gone to sleep thinking about what I’m going to write the next day, so in the morning those thoughts and ideas are the freshest. But of course, the morning in a household like mine is filled with other tasks – hanging out the washing, walking the dog, seeing Violet off to a day with her grandparents or daycare, or waving her off to an adventure with my husband. There’s no writing while she’s around. None. She consumes my brain with her questions, curiosities, and funny anecdotes, and for her, my attention being drawn to a screen seems to be an urgent call for help as I’m sucked into the online world. She drags me back ferociously, even from the screen that brings home the bacon.
I’m a writer who ‘smashes out’ words. I want to get completely through a scene, then go back and decide who could be funnier, who’s not getting their point across, whether the whole thing needs to be reconsidered. I think part of my hunger to get as many words down as possible, as fast as possible, is born of years spent squeezing an activity that was illegitimate and fanciful to those around me into tiny spaces. That gap after school but before homework. That smoke break for my colleagues at the restaurant. That hour while a boyfriend went to the gym. It was incredibly useful training; not having the time and space carved out for my art in my early days. It means that now, I can write anywhere, any time, even if only for 10 minutes while I wait for a train.
I like noise, so if Violet is in care for a good length of time I head down to the local cafe. If I’m writing at home I do 20 minute sprints, then get up and do some housework, so in a cafe I’ll go and chatter to the staff in that 1-2 minute breather or walk outside and look at the street. I try to order something every half an hour, even if it’s just water or another coffee, so that I can justify my presence.
In between all this writing and thinking and plotting are calls, texts and emails. I’ve recently had to split off a personal number from my old number, because activity around the optioning of my other books and their development onto the screen takes a lot of communication. Like, a lot. I speak to my agent just about every day of the week – but that’s not all business. We’ve worked together for about ten years, and are very close. Lately, her calls are met with a cacophony of noise on my end – Violet yelling, dog barking, lawn mower going, whatever it is. She calls a hive, hears the deafening buzz, and knows to check in later.
Right now I’m working on my 17th major work (there’s a couple of audio things in there and a novella aside from the novels). It’s taking me about nine months to write a novel on my own and about six to write one in collaboration with James Patterson. When it’s Jim-book season, which is about every second novel for me, Jim and I have long chats about once a week. I’ll typically clear the house of husband, daughter and dog for such a call, mainly because Jim has a cheeky sense of humor and loves to deadpan, and I’m prone to falling for it. Come on, Candice, keep up! he’ll jibe. About three quarters of the content of our calls are about our kids and trying to keep our heads above water as parents.
I don’t write on the weekends, or typically after 3pm, because that’s Violet time. I’ll admit that mentally I sneak away from episodes of Andy’s Baby Animals to play with my characters now and then, but I realize that one of these days my baby animal will be at school, and there will be huge slabs of time to spend with those beloved of mine who don’t actually exist. Until I have to squeeze in time with Violet, I’m happy enough to squeeze in time with everybody and everything else.