A Day in the Life of Annalee Newitz

Annalee Newitz is the tech culture editor at Ars Technica and the founding editor of io9. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of popular tech site Gizmodo. She’s the author of Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her first science fiction novel, Autonomous, was published today. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Wired, and many other outlets. She’s the coeditor of the essay collection She’s Such A Geek, and author of Pretend We’re Dead: Capitalist Monsters in American Pop CultureFollow her on Twitter @Annaleen.

Annalee NewitzCourtesy of Annalee Newitz

Annalee Newitz

 What I’m working on:

I’m the tech culture editor at Ars Technica, and my first novel, Autonomous, came out today. I’m currently working on lots of science and culture articles for Ars, another novel, and a nonfiction book about archaeology and abandoned cities.

Courtesy of Annalee Newitz

Where I work: 

I live in San Francisco, and work a lot in my study at home. It’s lined with bookshelves, has a closet crammed with hard drives, and looks out into a backyard inhabited by squirrels, corvids, ants, and the occasional hawk or raccoon. I also like to work in cafés.

Daily routine:

My daily routine is relatively variable, as I’m often bouncing between several different projects. But on an ideal day, I get up and do some email and look over the day’s schedule and then spend a couple hours on research and writing. I do phone interviews in the morning if I can, because that way I’m hitting everyone’s time zones in the U.S. I take a midday break, and spend the afternoon reading, researching, and writing, not necessarily in that order. I try to juggle a couple of different writing projects so that if I start to run out of steam on one I can turn to the next. Sometimes that means I’ll write 500 words on one thing and 500 words on another—or I’ll just pound out a whole article in one long chunk.

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One of the hard things about having a self-directed job is knowing when you’re getting nowhere with a piece and being willing to set it aside to do something else. On a bad day, I will try to push myself to finish an article that I’m stuck on, and I’ll end up reading Twitter for an hour instead. An hour I could have been reading or researching another story! So when I find myself staring at Twitter, I know it’s time to switch gears and work on something else.

Most productive part of my day:

Mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

Most essential ritual or habit:

Changing locations in the middle of the day. Sometimes that means going out to lunch or taking a walk during lunchtime. Sometimes it means walking to a café and spending the afternoon working there. Other times it might just mean switching from a sitting to a standing position at my desk (I can lower and raise my desk, which is truly essential). No matter what form it takes, I need to move around at midday or I just can’t concentrate on my afternoon work.

Courtesy of Annalee Newitz

Mobile device:

Google Pixel, iPhone 6, iPad mini (I just can’t get rid of it because I like it so much), Fitbit

Computer:

MacBook Air (everyday laptop), 27” iMac (desktop), Samsung Chromebook (for travel)

Essential software/apps/productivity tools:

Chrome, Notepad, Evernote, Dragon Naturally Speaking, MS Word, Google Scholar, Slack, Signal, Dropbox

Favorite time waster/procrastination habit:

Twitter and Instagram

My reading habits:

As much as possible. Literally any time I have a free moment, I will start reading—whether it’s on the bus, waiting for a friend on a street corner, or lazing on the couch for several hours on the weekend. I read books on paper and on my iPad using the Kindle app. I read news on my phone usually, but sometimes on my computer. For the most part, I divide my time between scientific papers/books, and science fiction novels.

 Sleep schedule:

I’m pretty much always on a midnight–8:00 a.m. sleep schedule, with occasional deviations for early morning flights or late-night stargazing parties.

 

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