Where I write

When I decided to rewrite my novel, Into the Fire, I also decided that I was leaving time on the table that could better be used for other things.  Let me explain.

Sometimes I'll eat at Tokyo Joe's twice a week

An old axiom reads: Never leave money on the table.  Essentially, this refers to a negotiation where two parties are trying to come to an agreement.  If you’re sitting at that table, don’t give up until you’ve gotten all you can from the deal.  Don’t leave money on the table.

For years, my routine during the week was to get up, go to work, work til lunch, head out to the nearest fast food place, run through the drive-thru and take whatever greasy number I picked from the menu back to my desk where I ate it, then return to work.  Drive home at night, make a little dinner, watch a little tv or do whatever, then squeeze in some writing before bedtime.

The decision I made was to change the middle part.  No longer would I sit at my desk and eat lunch.  I would leave the building for my full lunch hour and make better choices about what I eat.  Example: I haven’t had a cheeseburger for lunch in over a year.  I would also take my laptop with me and use as much of my lunch hour as possible to write.

This has dramatically increased my productivity and word count.  I can usually pull a thousand words out at lunch.  That’s a thousand words I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, and five thousand words each week.  Do the math, it adds up.

A good chunk of Into the Fire has been written during my lunch hours at Tokyo Joe’s, Subway & Chipotle, all places where I can pick and choose what goes onto the plate/into my food.  So I can keep my calorie count lower than it has traditionally been, and be productive in my writing all at the same time.  Recently, I added Garbanzo’s Mediterranean Grill to the mix, and Schlotsky’s is my reward – if I’ve been good calorie wise during the week, I can have Schlotsky’s for lunch on Friday.  If I haven’t been good, like last week when I did a lot of stress eating, I can’t have Schlotsky’s.

I also have the luxury of going to lunch late, which some people don’t always have.  A lot of companies set your lunch hour, mine doesn’t/hasn’t.  So I go late, around 12:45, and avoid most of the crowds.  This makes for an excellent environment for writing as there isn’t too much noise/distractions.  I did try to add some other places to the mix, Village Inn, for example.  Village Inn is a Denny’s-like restaurant, but I found that the calories and the sheer noise of the place, did not make for a good match for what I was looking for.

The bottom line is that I’m putting words to page.  Have I faltered?  Yes.  The last couple weeks of October saw my daily word count plunge to new and never before seen depths, but November has seen them creeping back up to a respectable number I can live with.

I just have to stick with it and get back into the groove.



  • Paul (@princejvstin) Posted November 7, 2011 11:31 am

    I also have the luxury of going to lunch late, which some people don’t always have. A lot of companies set your lunch hour, mine doesn’t/hasn’t.

    What I do, and you will appreciate this, Patrick, is that I usually bag my lunch, eat the lunch as I work, and then, later, take a late lunch so that I can have uninterrupted and quiet reading time after the company lunchroom is empty.

    Thus, I get a portion of my daily reading portion in…

    • Jamie Todd Rubin Posted November 8, 2011 8:58 am

      Paul, I’ve actually been doing something similar, eating and working at the same time and using my full lunch hour for reading. Usually I do this at noon, but sometimes it varies, depending on my meetings.

  • Jamie Todd Rubin Posted November 8, 2011 8:57 am

    For the last 10 years or so (I’ve been at this job for 17) my lunch hour has been roughly the following:

    1. Close my office door.
    2. Spend 10 minutes eating
    3. Spend 20 minutes reading
    4. Spend 30 minutes sleeping

    I’d close my eyes and be out and sleep almost exactly 30 minutes. It was a great little break in the middle of the day. But I’ve gotten so busy that has pretty much gone by the boards. Now, I spent my hour doing my Golden Age reading. (I still eat first; wouldn’t want to get food stains on the old Astounding’s). It helps keep me on schedule, but I do miss my lunchtime naps.

    I’ve heard of people writing their breakthrough novel on their lunch hour. I’m not one of them.

    • Patrick Hester Posted November 8, 2011 9:28 am

      I’ve learned that I can’t stay in the building. We don’t have a lunch/break area, so most people eat at their desks. I’m in a cube, not an office (my last two jobs, I had an office), so there’s no door to close. If I stay in the building, people will bother me. I will end up doing work and never taking the break.

      So, I leave.

      As for bringing my lunch, I used to do that and have gotten away from it for various reasons. I keep thinking I should start that up again…


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