A day in the life of Katie Fforde

A dawn start, homemade soup and exercising in front of the television – romantic novelist Katie Fforde describes a day in her writing life

Writing life: Katie Fforde

Early morning tweets

I start my writing day early, sometimes as early as 5.30 a.m. in the summer, or 6 a.m. I reach my desk in my dressing gown and woolly slippers and I turn on my laptop and Radio 4. In the good old days, I was very conscientious and writing was like my secret lover, now it’s like my husband. I love it just as much but in a slightly different way.

My desk is in my office, upstairs. It is always in chaos. I used to say I tidied it between every new book but I don’t have time to do it that often now. When it is tidy I soon untidy it again. I think it suits me like that. 

My eyes don’t focus well in the morning, so I have to play a lot of Spider Patience and then I check into Twitter to make sure nothing’s happening without me. I really like following Kate Long who tweets as @volewriter. She tweets about wildlife and old teenage magazines. I also follow India Knight, but most people I follow are my friends or fellow writers. 

After checking my emails, I’ll turn everything off and start writing. On a good day, I’ll get 1,000 words done before the phone is likely to ring at 9.30am. Sometimes it takes longer. It all depends if my previous day writing was any good or not. I usually start by editing what I did the day before, to get me into the mood. If it was rubbish and I have to rewrite it all, it takes me longer to get my 1,000 words done.

Currently I mark the end of the working day (which is lunch-time as I start early) by finding something I want to watch on television and marching up and down to it, to feed my Fitbit, which is my latest obsession. I aim to do 10,000 steps a day, which can take a long time! I like to watch cookery programmes and property programmes. As my husband hates these, I watch them during the day, when I’m getting my steps in. In the evening, we are both addicted to Pointless.

Problem-solving on the move

Lunch is at home unless I’m in London or meeting a friend. I like to eat homemade soup (which I make myself, mostly tomatoes, vegetables and a good shake of chilli) or salad. I love making salad if I have time, and put lots of different vegetables in it. A slightly unusual one is petit pois frozen peas. They are surprisingly good!

Sometimes in the afternoon I go for a walk. Quite often I get my best ideas when I’m on the move. I set out, either with my dogs or without them, with my problem in my head. I march about and eventually I find the problem will sort itself out. It’s good if I’m not a mile away from home when I get the answer to my plot problem otherwise I’m bound to meet someone as I run across the common and I’m frightened that if I do, I’ll forget what it was I wanted to say!

In the evening, I slump in front of the television and quite often doze off! I usually start going to bed at about 10 p.m. but by the time I’ve fiddled about on Twitter, email or the internet, I don’t usually get into bed until nearly 11 p.m. Then I read for at least twenty minutes, often longer. 

I don’t usually start thinking about the next day’s writing until I wake in the night, which I always do. I like to have had a good think before I get up so I know what I’m doing before I reach my desk.

Sign up to the Penguin Newsletter

For the latest books, recommendations, author interviews and more