Matthew Rickart

Many writers don’t like being defined. They may pick a genre (poetry, journalism, blogging), but if you ask them what they do, they’ll usually say, “Oh, I’m a writer.” Some writers who come to Brafton don’t know they’re writers until a few weeks in. After a month on the job, someone will ask, “What do you do?” And they’ll suddenly respond, for the first time, “Oh, I’m a writer.”

And there’s a very specific satisfaction in saying that.

Brafton’s content writers are, like all true writers, giant and ever-growing repositories of knowledge. Brafton writers are topical, clever and informed by trade. This has the bonus benefit of making us awesome at cocktail party small-talk.If you’ve seen our content, you already know all this about Brafton writers. But what goes on behind all that writing? Who are these writers and how do they spend their days?

We’re not going to pull a Pynchon on you. Our writers are friendly – and glad you asked. Follow us through a Day in Life of a Brafton Writer in our Boston office.

7:30 a.m. Brafton business hours start at 8:30 a.m., but writer schedules vary. Some are hard at work when the office opens at 7:30 a.m., producing the day’s best articles alongside their first cups of coffee. Others may not wander in until closer to 10 a.m., ready to hit their stride sometime after noon.

Early bird writers enjoy shorter lines at Dunkin’ Donuts, but they also get to settle into a relatively quiet office with the daily tinnitus of typing turned down to a minimum.

8 a.m. Most writers are on their way to the office by about 8, via the commuter rail from the suburbs, catching the T from neighborhoods around the city or braving the city streets on a bike during nicer weather.

However, not all writers physically commute. The Boston office is home to more than 60 editorial teammates on a day-to-day basis, but a handful work from home. The miracles of Gchat, email and conference calls help close that distance, whether it’s from downtown Boston to North Andover, MA, or all the way to our office in San Francisco!

9 a.m. The editorial room’s kitchenette is often busiest at this point, when team members from video, sales, account management and graphics gather for a K-cup of Breakfast Blend. Seasonally, you’ll see new flavors show up: Blueberry in summer, pumpkin spice in September. The holiday season is the richest in variety: Gingerbread, eggnog and a ton of hot cocoa.

9:15 a.m. Coffee in hand, your average writer settles into his or her desk about now. Writers each have their own individual workspace, and most desks are arranged with snacks (almonds, M&Ms), personal items (potted plants, mugs, paperbacks) and stacks of yellow legal pads filled with notes and doodles. There are also plenty of AP stylebooks floating around. It’s always the minute particulars of a writer’s desk that reveals something about his or her character.

“I spend too much money on toys,” says Connie Wong, clearly a video game fan and devotee of Nordic Mint Altoids.

“What does my desk say about me? That I’m a minimalist,” says Brafton writer Liam Feldstein, who adds that one morning a toy rocketship appeared by his keyboard. He’s proudly displayed it ever since.

9:20 a.m. At long last, it’s time to log into Scribe, Brafton’s proprietary content management system. Since its debut, Scribe has been an integral part of the writer’s process.

Every Brafton writer has his or her own writing method. Some lean forward intently, others lean back in their chairs. There’s a surprising amount of good posture in this office – sometimes with the help of yoga balls.

Writers listen to Spotify playlists or classical music performances on YouTube. Sometimes, they just take in the sounds of the office.They drink tea, protein smoothies, energy drinks, seltzer and lots and lots of coffee.

Brafton writers aren’t like other office workers – not only because we have impeccable taste in desk tchotchkes or know Google better than we know some family members.

In the morning, writers jump on the phone for interviews, Q&As or chats with client contacts. They transcribe conference lectures, construct detailed how-tos, and master the art of the listicle. If someone on the health desk has a tax question about an article he or she is writing for a health care consulting firm, help is just a walk through the office or Gchat away at the finance desk.

But, if there’s one thing writers do almost as much as they write, it’s read.

10 a.m. Good readers make good writers. And that’s especially true at Brafton. While our personal reading lists range from 19th century literature, Rolling Stone, political biographies and esoteric Wikipedia pages, at work, Brafton writers read like editors, which is important because most writers spend a portion of their day peer editing.

Being a good editor is about more than just quality assurance, it helps writers to hone every part of their craft. Editing makes better writers!

11 a.m. A Braftonian might have an AP Style meeting at 11 a.m., at which point the writer grabs a legal pad, tops off the coffee mug and heads off to meet with Brafton’s QA {Quality Assurance} team, who review the golden rules of the Official AP Stylebook. Sometimes this consists of reminders: “No serial/Oxford comma!” or “Remember that health care is two words now!” And sometimes it delves into the esoteric: “Temperatures get higher or lower, not warmer or cooler.”

Noon Between noon and 1 p.m., the Brafton office gets a bit more active as folks leave to find some take-out, warm up a meal in the kitchenette or refresh their coffees. Other folks sort emails while enjoying homemade sandwiches. Most everyone makes time to check Facebook, Gawker or Buzzfeed. A classy few can be found on The New Yorker or Economist.

Meanwhile, work-from-home writers like lead editor Lia Marchand (who has a personal vendetta against comma splicing) says she takes her lunchbreak to wind down and play with her pet rabbit. This is a definite benefit of telecommuting.

After a bite to eat and a little social time, a writer may head back to his or her desk to tackle the afternoon’s stories.

1:30 p.m. Every Brafton writer has a different strategy for approaching workdays. Some are creatures of habit and prefer to write for specific clients in the mornings. Other writers schedule their days on the fly and take projects as they arise. Section editors recognize writer preferences and aptitudes and assign appropriately: Clients with more time-sensitive needs may be given to writers who like to improvise and think on their feet. Conversely, research-heavy stories will be handed to those writers who prefer to dig into a subject at their own pace.

Being a Brafton writer takes a specific kind of self-discipline: Hours and days are measured in words, and you need to budget accordingly.

3 p.m. Baseball has its 7th-inning stretch, and Brafton has its 3 p.m. coffee break. If you’re lucky, it’s a Tuesday and there’s a fresh delivery of fruit in Brafton’s loft.

A Brafton writer, fresh apple in hand, stretches the legs before sitting back down at his or her desk. The writer checks his editorial folder and updates a client brief to reflect new feedback from day-to-day contacts before looping in the rest of the team.

Then it’s back to writing!

3:45 p.m. Once a month, writers sit down with one or both of their section editors to chat about Brafton life, discuss favorite assignments, address biggest challenges and just generally decompress.

Brafton writers share certain traits in common – time management, focus, patience, organization, communication skills, a love of GIFs and the ability to tell a good story. The company also recognizes that all writers are different and we work to enhance those unique qualities, whether it’s a penchant for home decor or healthcare consulting.

Brafton after 5 Brafton writers don’t look at the clock waiting for 5 to roll around. There’s no bell or buzzer or timecard to punch. But around 5 p.m., the atmosphere definitely changes.

Writers may either hunker down and turn up the Classical station on Pandora or start to get chatty with their neighbors. After a few last minute edits and some final articles sent for approval, the early birds who have been steadily producing since around 8 in the morning will pack up their bags and head out to catch the train – or on Friday nights, stop by J.J. Foley’s, the neighborhood bar, for a pint.

Writing can be exhausting. It requires mental acrobatics at times – especially at Brafton. Ask any writer, from novelist to blogger, what defines the profession and they’ll agree on two things:

  1. It is consistently challenging. It’s some of the hardest work you can do.
  2. It’s also compulsive. Writers do what they love – it defines them.

Brafton writers fit that mold. Writing isn’t just a job – it’s a passion.