Additionally to my latest post on establishing daily writing habits, I put together some motivation for myself and for you: daily routine snippets of famous writers we all know and love. Reading about how they work has motivated and inspired me so much throughout the years of becoming a more consistent writer.
Stephen King / 6 pages per day
Best-selling thriller writer King has penned over 50 novels in his career that spans over forty years. When asked how the **** he writes so many books, he answered, “I try to get six pages a day.”
King’s morning routine usually goes something like this:
I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning,” he explained. “I have my vitamin pill and my music, sit in the same seat, and the papers are all arranged in the same places…The cumulative purpose of doing these things the same way every day seems to be a way of saying to the mind, you’re going to be dreaming soon.
Haruki Murakami / Repetition
When he asked how he usually went about his writing, Murakami emphasized the importance of a routine.
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at four a.m. and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for ten kilometers or swim for fifteen hundred meters (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at nine p.m. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.
Susan Sontag / Rules
In her 1977 diary, critical essayist and novelist Sontag reveals her private resolutions that helped her stick to her daily writing habits.
- Starting tomorrow — if not today:
- I will get up every morning no later than eight. (Can break this rule once a week.)
- I will have lunch only with Roger [Straus]. (‘No, I don’t go out for lunch.’ Can break this rule once every two weeks.)
- I will write in the Notebook every day. (Model: Lichtenberg’s Waste Books.)
- I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone.
- I will try to confine my reading to the evening. (I read too much — as an escape from writing.)
- I will answer letters once a week. (Friday? — I have to go to the hospital anyway.)
E.B. White / Dealing with distractions
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
In an interview in 1969, E.B. White shares:
I never listen to music when I’m working. I haven’t that kind of attentiveness, and I wouldn’t like it at all. On the other hand, I’m able to work fairly well among ordinary distractions. My house has a living room that is at the core of everything that goes on: it is a passageway to the cellar, to the kitchen, to the closet where the phone lives. There’s a lot of traffic. But it’s a bright, cheerful room, and I often use it as a room to write in, despite the carnival that is going on all around me.
Ernest Hemingway / Early bird
In an interview in 1954, this Nobel Prize winner and novelist, shares:
When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.
You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there. You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.
When you stop you are as empty, and at the same time never empty but filling, as when you have made love to someone you love. Nothing can hurt you, nothing can happen, nothing means anything until the next day when you do it again. It is the wait until the next day that is hard to get through.
In 1962, American Novelist and Nobel Prize winner Steinbeck wrote a a letter to his friend revealing his six best strategies for productivity, beating procrastination and to “keep from going nuts.”
Now let me give you the benefit of my experience in facing 400 pages of blank stock — the appalling stuff that must be filled. I know that no one really wants the benefit of anyone’s experience which is probably why it is so freely offered. But the following are some of the things I have had to do to keep from going nuts.
- Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day; it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
- Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
- Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theatre, it doesn’t exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person — a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
- If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it — bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn’t belong there.
- Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
- If you are using dialogue — say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
What do you think? What are your writing habits and how do you stick to them?