Hannah Fielding is a novelist, a dreamer, a traveller, a mother, a wife and an incurable romantic. The seeds for her writing career were sown in early childhood, spent in Egypt, when she came to an agreement with her governess Zula: for each fairy story Zula told, Hannah would invent and relate one of her own. Years later – following a degree in French literature, several years of travelling in Europe, falling in love with an Englishman, the arrival of two beautiful children and a career in property development – Hannah decided after so many years of yearning to write that the time was now. Today, she lives the dream: she writes full time, splitting her time between her homes in Kent, England, and the South of France, where she dreams up romances overlooking breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.
Balancing being an author with everyday life
It’s a classic dilemma for any writer: how do you effectively move between the world of fantasy and the world of realism? How do you juggle dreaming up characters with shopping for, preparing and eating tonight’s dinner? How do you manage to both plan several chapters today and play hostess to some of your husband’s colleagues?
In ‘writer mode’, you are highly creative and imaginative, quite detached from the world around and liable to do daft things like dreamily put ten sugars in your tea and absent-mindedly call your best friend by your protagonist’s name. In ‘real world’ mode you need to be connected to the people and things around you; out of the clouds; focused and engaged.
Ultimately, you’ve two choices:
- Allow the two worlds to collide: Accept that during the course of writing your novel, you’ll be a little distracted. Ask your family members to make allowances.
- Strictly segment the worlds: Treat your writing like a professional occupation – set aside dedicated writing time in which you lock yourself away and fully immerse yourself in the activity; then, when the time is up, step away from the writing and be fully present in the real world.
The latter is most certainly my approach, and the one I would recommend. When you separate the activities, you focus best when you are writing, and when you’re not writing, you give your creative mind some time off to recharge and process ideas – and you manage your non-writing life effectively.
The following tips can really help in balancing being an author with everyday life:
- Plan before you write. Allow yourself a period of time in which you’re lost in ideas, then be disciplined and shape the ideas into a plan from which you then try not to deviate. The result is fewer ‘head in the cloud’ moments when you’re writing.
- Set a routine. A routine is, I’ve found, ideal for being an efficient and prolific writer. I work out a schedule for the writing, and then break the book down into chunks (usually chapters) for which I set targets. When I know I’ve achieved what I set out to achieve, I can go back to my daily life without ruminating over the book.
- Make a conscious choice to switch off your writing part. When you’re not writing, don’t write – in your mind. You need time away from the writing. Just as with any activity, you perform better with regular breaks. So make sure you really are taking time out, and not sitting at the dinner table with your family daydreaming about characters!
Any creative pursuit can be hard to manage alongside daily life; but with some planning and self-discipline, you can have the best of both worlds.
Coral Sinclair is a beautiful but naïve twenty-five-year-old photographer who has just lost her father. She’s leaving the life she’s known and traveling to Kenya to take ownership of her inheritance – the plantation that was her childhood home – Mpingo. On the voyage from England, Coral meets an enigmatic stranger to whom she has a mystifying attraction. She sees him again days later on the beach near Mpingo, but Coral’s childhood nanny tells her the man is not to be trusted. It is rumored that Rafe de Monfort, owner of a neighboring plantation and a nightclub, is a notorious womanizer having an affair with her stepmother, which may have contributed to her father’s death.
Circumstance confirms Coral’s worst suspicions, but when Rafe’s life is in danger she is driven to make peace. A tentative romance blossoms amidst a meddling ex-fiancé, a jealous stepmother, a car accident, and the dangerous wilderness of Africa. Is Rafe just toying with a young woman’s affections? Is the notorious womanizer only after Coral’s inheritance? Or does Rafe’s troubled past color his every move, making him more vulnerable than Coral could ever imagine?