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A Day In The Life Of Writer + Fearless Feminist Advocate, Clementine Ford

A Day In The Life

The last time we caught up with writer, podcaster and fearless feminist advocate, Clementine Ford, was during the very first lockdown of 2020. Her popularity had soared to new heights locally and overseas after the release of best-selling books Fight Like A Girl and Boys Will Be Boys, and just as her calendar was backing up with engagements – the pandemic hit.

Now, one and a half years later, there are a few similarities. Clem has just released a new book (How We Love) and still spends most of her time co-parenting her son. But there are also a lot of differences: she’s shifted to producing lots of content for herself rather than for others, but that means it’s now a lot harder to switch off.

With a few useful lockdown habits staying on for good, and a few she needs to shake (a more intense relationship with social media for one!), this is what a day in the life of one of Melbourne’s most prominent public commentators looks like.

23rd November, 2021

Working for yourself and from home, rituals are essential to demarcate the day! Putting on makeup in the morning is calming and restorative for Clem. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

A lineup of beauty treasures. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Cleaning up after a little kid never ends… Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Podcasting from the living room. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Clementine’s new book How We Love is out now. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Taking a lunch break and reading another local author, Charlotte Wood! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Being online is a large and important part of Clem’s life – but it can be hard to detach! Building a community is a huge amount of physical and emotional work. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 23rd November 2021

‘I find it impossible to ‘switch off’. If you figure out how people do this, please let me know.’

Clementine Ford is instantly recognisable, which is both a blessing and a curse. As a public figure, she’s spent a lot of energy building a community, and that in itself requires a Herculean combo of effort, empathy and time. Her fearless online presence aims to platform women and their rights, meaning she is doing valuable and visible work at the forefront of the fight for gender equity.

On the flip side, there is a lot of public scrutiny (and haters!) that comes with being a force for change.

‘I am a fairly open book with people, particularly in terms of how accessible I make myself. But there are some things you just have to declare off limits,’ she says on setting boundaries between her professional and personal life. It’s a delicate tight-rope act, being vulnerable and available for people online, without giving so much of yourself away that your privacy is compromised. It’s not something that necessarily affects Clem’s day-to-day life – but it’s an implicit factor in a lot of things she does.

In her new book How We Love, Clem extends another chunk of herself to her audience. The memoir is an exploration of love in lots of forms – parental, romantic, platonic, young – and takes a lyrical deep dive into this world of complicated and sometimes turbulent emotions. In a way, it’s a big thematic shift from her previous written works. And in other ways it’s not. It’s about being human and compassionate, it’s about our generosity and the essential care we extend to others. This deep exploration of love feels evermore salient in a post-pandemic world.

Clem’s days are a juggle at the moment, with a press tour underway and the world slowly opening back up again. But as you’ll see, Clem’s processes and routines are well oiled after years of freelancing and working in the creative industries. This is how she does it!

First Thing

When I have my son, I usually wake up around 7:30am. On my kid-free days, I’ll still wake at around the same time but might go back to sleep until 8 or 8:30. It’s all a very far cry from my university days, that’s for sure!

I hate to be a cliche, but the first thing I do is “reach for my phone and check my messages”. I have a coffee filter machine that’s set on a timer, and I’ll jump up and grab a cup and then toodle around on my phone in bed and start my “work” day.

I never used to function well in the mornings, but I’m much better at it now. I would say I’ve finally become a “kind of” morning person.

Morning

I start work as soon as I wake up, and I can do it from bed! I go through all of the messages I’ve received overnight, check my emails and check my diary for any things I have to do that day or that are due. I have a TERRIBLE sense of organisation and need to basically be constantly reminded of my responsibilities. It’s a function of having Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

One morning ritual is I always shower and get ready for the day, even though so much of my work is done at home. I find putting on make up very soothing, and I suppose because a lot of my work also involves videos or face stuff, I feel more comfortable generally being ‘ready’.

I don’t have set lunchtime or breaks, and actually frequently work through the day without eating lunch. I’m more of a big dinner kind of person, while grazing through the day.

Afternoon

While I was writing my book, I found afternoons a good time to start my word count for the day. I like to write later into the night, starting at around 3 and finishing at around 9 or 10pm. Now that the book is done, my typical afternoon tasks involve making content for Instagram, planning any upcoming things or talking with my long suffering and glorious manager about various things I’ve forgotten to do.

I don’t feel especially energised in the afternoon, even though I find it the best time for writing. I become very anxious about how much of the day is gone and how unproductive I feel I’ve been. I think, objectively, I’m quite a productive person but I have terrible anxiety and self loathing about my shortcomings, and spend a lot of time berating myself for not being good enough. It’s as sad as it sounds!

Evening

I don’t have a set time I finish work, but when I have my son I generally stop between 5pm and 8:30pm so I can pick him up, get him fed and ready for bed. Then I might work again after he’s gone to sleep.

I *love* dinner. I consider a big feed at the end of the day to be one of life’s great pleasures! I’ll sit down and have a small snack when my son eats dinner so he feels that it’s something we do together, but generally speaking dinner before 8:30 is wild to me. My family growing up were always late eaters – it still feels glamorous to me to be sitting down to eat late. I also love to cook, so after my son goes to sleep I’ll take my time making a meal that’s delicious, extremely colourful and full of flavour. I have a simple checklist for what makes a good meal – a bit of protein, something leafy and green, something with a bit of crunch, chilli, garlic, and lots of different colours on the plate.

I used to play roller derby so in summer time I love to go for street skates to unwind! I also enjoy long walks with friends, beer gardens on Sunday afternoons and getting out to the country. Pretty standard 40 year old stuff!

I find it impossible to ‘switch off’. If you figure out how people do this, please let me know.

Last Thing

I usually go to sleep around 11:30pm – midnight. I love to sleep, but since having a child I’ve maintained around 6 or 7 hours a night. I don’t think I really need a lot of sleep, but I definitely felt it in the newborn days when I was only having 3 or 4 (broken) hours a night.

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Clem works from home all day, so getting out and about is essential! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Clem find it ‘impossible’ to switch off. Occupational hazard! Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Author, mother and fearless feminist advocate, Clementine Ford. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Right now I’m listening to, watching, and reading…

Listening to Red (Taylor’s Version) and All Too Well (ten-minute version) on repeat. I also love the podcast You Are Good. It’s so joyful and funny!

I get my best work done when…

I’m fuelled by anxiety. I need deadlines to be bearing down on me to really get motivated. In terms of feminist polemic, I get my best work done when I’m in a rage.

My productivity tool/tip is…

You have to just start. Even if it’s bad. Just get the words on the page or the work started. No matter what it is you’re doing, if you at least do a little bit each day, you will eventually finish. An 80,000 word book will be finished in 160 days if you write 500 words a day. That’s five months! It helps to put that into perspective.

A philosophy I live and work by is…

Always try to improve on the last thing you did. Never become too comfortable, because that’s when the work becomes lazy.

Something I’ve learned the hard way is…

You will never be fully satisfied with anything you do, but once it’s finished you have to learn to let it go. It belongs to the world now!

Clem’s brand new book, ‘How We Love’, is out now online and at all good bookshops. Check it out here!

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