Writing life

Claire Douglas

The author of Local Girl Missing shares her daily writing routine and how she becomes immersed in the dark lives of her characters

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning – or rather drag myself out of bed – is stagger down to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. It’s not until I’ve had a few sips of a strong builder’s brew that I feel ready to face the day ahead. I’m not at all a morning person, but with two young children to get up and out of the house for school I have to force myself to wake up at 6.45am.

Early mornings are like a military operation in our house with me shouting “Go, Go, Go!” like a sergeant major until we are out of the door and in the car. The school run normally takes about an hour and I’m usually back home by 9.15am, where I’ll then make myself another cup of tea and some toast. I always sit at the kitchen table with my laptop because it’s near the kettle and the food cupboard! I spend about half an hour faffing around on Twitter and Facebook but I try and keep my use of social media to a minimum, otherwise, before I know it, hours have gone past and I haven’t even started any writing (but I do know all about what’s happening in Big Brother or how old a particular actor or celebrity is).

While eating my toast I’ll check my emails, but after I’ve finished breakfast (and forced myself to shut down all social media) I start writing.

I try and aim for 1,000 words a day – on a good day it’s 2,000, on a bad it’s 200. I usually stop at about 1pm (although this is broken up by the odd sneaky peek on Twitter or Facebook to make sure I’m not missing out on anything). Sometimes I meet a friend for lunch or a coffee, otherwise I’ll sit and eat a sandwich at my desk (well, the kitchen table) and read some of the news pages. Okay, if I’m being totally honest it’s the celebrity news pages! 

I’ll spend the afternoon revising and editing my morning’s work, then putting the washing on and stacking the dishwasher. I have to leave the house about 3pm to begin the school run. Sometimes, chatting to other parents outside the school gates is the first time I’ve spoken to anyone all day, and this can feel strange, having to engage my brain in small talk when, just half an hour earlier, I was immersed in the darkness of my characters’ lives. There’s been times though when the school pick up has helped with inspiration; like the other day when one of the mums told me that another foot has been found at a park in Bath. It’s the second foot in a matter of months; both left feet and unidentified. One of the theories is that they have come from a local medical school, as they appear to have been preserved. It sounds gory but the police don’t think it’s suspicious. It’s not something I’d like to find in the park, but it has found its way into the novel I’m currently writing.

The next few hours are spent with the children, either playdates or helping them with homework. Then I cook dinner. When they are in bed I might catch up on a bit more writing or editing – especially if I didn’t manage to write much as much as I would have liked during the day. My husband and I sit and watch the television – most recently we were both gripped by The Tunnel or something funny like Modern Family. By eleven o’clock I’ve normally fallen asleep on the sofa!


Find out more about the author

Local Girl Missing

Claire Douglas


Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier -
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.

A body's been found.
And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . .

Praise for Claire Douglas's thrillers:

'Thrillingly tense and twisty' B A Paris

'Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train' Marie Claire

'Packed with a killer twist' Closer

'Superb plotting' Jenny Blackhurst

'Will give you chills' Sunday Mirror

'Gripping' Closer

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