A Day in the Life of Children's Author Lisa Thompson

Posted on 2nd January 2017 by Sally Campbell
The Goldfish Boy is our Children’s Book of the Month for January. Perhaps described best as a Rear Window for younger readers, Lisa Thompson’s debut is a deft combination of thriller and a heartfelt portrayal of a young boy overcoming sky-high hurdles. Although it takes real writing chops to create something this assured, Thompson unveils some writing tips to the aspirant, including the most effective ways to battle that most terrible of demons – procrastination.

I’m always the first up in our house which suits me well as I’m definitely one of those annoying morning people (the downside is I’m terrible at parties).   On a designated ‘writing’ day I try to keep to a routine which starts at around 9am when I get back from the school run.

The house will be empty and I’ll turn on the laptop and think; “Wow, I’ve got a whole six hours to write, how utterly wonderful.”  I’ll then go through my emails, scroll through Twitter and Facebook, catch up with headlines on the BBC News website and then panic that it’s now 10am and I’ve completely wasted a whole hour doing nothing.  I’ll then try get my head down and write for an hour or two before I find myself wandering off into the kitchen for fuel. 


 Photo: View from Lisa Thompson's garden

If the words are flowing easily, then the day flies by.  I’ll stop for a quick lunch and then before I know it, I’ll be running to the car to go back for the school pick up.  If the words are ‘sticking’ a bit then I know I’m entering the ‘danger zone’.  This means I’m getting fidgety and could end up clearing out a kitchen drawer or suddenly decided it’s imperative that I paint my toenails purple – anything to get me away from the work-in-progress.  I’ve wasted whole days with this kind of behaviour but I’m now better equipped to try and combat these distractions.  Here are four of my methods:

1.     I get up and just have a walk around and a little stretch.  This can be a danger in itself.  If I’m not careful I could wander off into another part of the house, start changing the bedding and then decide I really need to sort through the linen cupboard.
2.      I might listen to a podcast. I’m a Radio 4 addict so I’d try putting on Desert Island Discs or Open Book quietly in the background and if it works, after a while the voices become too distracting and I turn it off.  If it doesn’t work I end up listening and staring out of the window.
3.      I’ll put on some music.  If I choose correctly then the right piece can be very inspirational.  If not, I’ll end up singing along to a Lloyd Webber/Rice musical and not concentrating.
4.     Set myself a short deadline with a reward at the end.  For example – if you write until 12.30 you can eat six biscuits. (This tends to be the best method) 

A while ago I bought a little old desk from a local auction which was going to be my designated ‘writing space’. 

It’s tucked in the corner of my bedroom and although it’s very sweet, I still find the best place to write is at the dining table where I can see out onto our little garden and where I’m in easy reach of the kettle.

It doesn’t matter if the words are flowing or not, you can pretty much guarantee that at exactly twenty minutes before I need to leave for the school run, I’ll suddenly turn into a writing-machine and my fingers can’t hit the keyboard fast enough.  I’ll be watching the clock with one eye and my laptop screen with the other and pound out sentence after sentence until I have to make a run for it.  Apparently, there is a scientific reason for this sudden injection of inspiration when you are time-pressured, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you what it is (I’ve forgotten).

After school, the day segues back into family life with lots of driving around for various football matches, shopping, dentist appointments etc.  It’s then I wish I was back at my laptop because my head undoubtedly be full of brilliant ideas that will have vanished by 9am the next day. 




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