How I Work

As a new member of Miss Demeanors, I’m working on helping regular readers—as well as new readers—get to know me. So I thought I’d tell you a little about how and where I work.

I’ve been a fulltime freelance writer for about ten or twelve years, which means I’ve been lucky enough to have a nicely appointed home office. It started out with a bunch of mismatched hand-me-down furniture, but over the years, I’ve been able to upgrade until now it pretty much all matches and works well for me.

My latest addition is an electric desk converter that lets me move my monitors and keyboard up and down, so I can move from standing to sitting, crouching, leaning, whatever works at the time, and it keeps my monitors and keyboards in an ergonomically correct position. I really love it, and it’s done wonders for my stiff shoulders and overstressed wrists.

My desk, with my standing desk converter, and three monitors with my three most recent dogs. Maggie up top, Penny below & Molly on the right.

The fact that my desk moves up and down has also forced me to keep it neater. After the first few times my piles of papers went flying, I learned to keep them contained. Like in a file in a drawer, not a random pile.

Speaking of monitors, I usually work with three at a time. I have the monitor on my MacBook Pro, which I treat as the main monitor. The big monitor above it I use for research when I’m working on client writing, or to keep windows like email and messaging open. If they aren’t visible all the time, I constantly click out of my work to see what’s going on. That’s a big time sink, and I don’t have the self-discipline to stop myself, so it’s actually more efficient for me to keep everything open where I can see it at a glance. The smaller side monitor is where I keep the spreadsheet where I track the progress on whatever novel I’m working on.

I treat all my writing like it’s a business. No pajamas at my desk. I’m there every morning—yes, weekends and holidays too—no later than 8:30 AM. Fully dressed, showered, fed and ready to work. 

About 9:30, I take a break to walk Molly. Then I’m right back at work. I break for lunch at 11:30 and I’m back at work by 12 or 12:15. I work through until sometime between 2:30 and 4:30, depending on what’s on deadline and how the work is going.

I have a whiteboard on one wall where I keep track of my work for hire and due dates. I also have inspirational thoughts and ideas written on it. They stay there until they aren’t inspirational anymore.

I have Steven James’ advice for novel writing on there. It’s been up for years because I find him very inspirational. Currently, there’s also an idea that Michele and I were talking about one day. We were discussing how everybody says, “your novel must be like this” or it must be “like that.” Michele said the reader is the only one who can decide if it works, so the reader should be allowed to decide. So I wrote “Let the reader decide.” Another inspirational idea that will most likely be on the board for years.

On the other side of my desk I have my reference manuals. Two dictionaries, two thesauruses (thesauri?), two grammar books, the Chicago Manual of Style, and the AP Style Guide. Those tomes are weighty. Plus a small picture of the Eiffel Tower my granddaughter brought me back from Paris.

Behind me is a very messy bookcase and my printer. On that wall there is also a picture my mother painted a few years before she passed on. On the wall above my desk I have a blue enamel crab and a picture of the ocean. I rotate the ocean pictures whenever I get bored, but it’s always an ocean picture.

The stuff behind where I write my mystery novels. My mother painted the picture in the gold frame.

So, readers and my fellow Miss Demeanors, how does my schedule, or my messy workspace, strike you?

Sharon is a successful freelance writer specializing in technology, manufacturing, and supply chain—even before the supply chain became the topic of the year. Before that, she worked at some of the most successful tech companies in the world, including Microsoft and Oracle. Her real love, though, is diving. As a PADI-certified divemaster, Sharon helped local dive shops with their training classes and has hundreds of dives under her weight belt. Wanting to share the joy and wonder of the underwater world, she wrote In Deep, her debut novel, released in August 2021. The second in the series, Sunken Death, was released on December 31, 2021. The third, Dark Tide, will hit the shelves in the spring of 2022.

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