Writing Routines & Tips from Famous Writers

Source: The Daily Routine of 20 Famous Writers (and How You Can Use Them to Succeed); https://rebrand.ly/u31mgrk

Source: The Daily Word Counts of 19 Famous Writers; https://rebrand.ly/1cmlrt3

Stephen King (thriller writer)

  • Routine: Has a glass of water or cup of tea, sits down from 8:00 to 8:30, has a vitamin pill, put son his music, sits in same seat, and has his papers all around him.
  • Goal: 2,000 words a day
  • When he works on a project, he writes every day for 3-4 hours, trying to get six clean pages.

Haruki Murakami (regarded as one of the world’s greatest living novelists)

  • Routine: Gets up at four a.m. every day and writes for five to six hours, runs or swims in the afternoon, reads some or listens to music, goes to bed by nine p.m.

Susan Sontag (critical essayist, novelist, and writer about photography)

  • Routine: Gets up by eight every day, writes in her Notebook every day, tells people not to call her in the morning or won’t answer the phone, reads in the evening, answers letters once a week.

WH Auden (one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets)

  • Routine: Gets up around 6:00 a.m., makes himself coffee, does a crossword puzzle, sits down to write by 7:00 until 11:30 a.m., has lunch and works until late afternoon, enjoys cocktail hour at 6:30 sharp by himself or with friends, has dinner with more wine, and goes to bed by 11:00.

E.B. White (author of Charlotte’s Web, children’s book)

  • Routine: Never listens to music when working. Often writes in his very busy living room with members of his household because it is bright and cheerful.

Ernest Hemingway (Nobel Prize winner and novelist; A Farewell to Arms)

  • Routine: Wrote every morning at six to noon, read what he had written and went on from there, wrote until he came to a place where he still had his juice and knew what would happen next, stopped, and tried to live through until the next day.
  • Goal: 500 words a day

Maya Angelou (writer, poet, civil rights activist)

  • Routine: Gets up at 5:30, has coffee by 6 with her husband, both go to work by 6:30. and works from 7 to 2, goes home and reads over what she wrote that day, showers, has dinner with her husband, and sometimes read what she wrote that day to him but doesn’t invite his comments.
  • She kept a hotel room to do her work. It had a bed, a face basin, a dictionary, a Bible, a deck of cards, and a bottle of sherry.

Kurt Vonnegut (American author; Slaughterhouse-five)

  • Routine: Wakes at 5:30, works until 8:00, eats breakfast at home, works until 10:00, walks into town or swims, goes home at 11:45, reads the mail during lunch at noon, does schoolwork in the afternoons (teaches or prepares), home from school about 5;30 and has Scotch and water, cooks supper, reads and listens to jazz, and goes to sleep by 10.
  • He took breaks from writing by doing pushups and sit-ups.

John Steinbeck (American novelist and Nobel Prize winner)

  • Advice: Forget the final page goal and write one page a day. Write freely and rapidly on paper. Never edit until the whole things is down. Forget that you’re writing for a nameless, faceless audience and write for one person (real or imagined). If a scene or a section gets the better of you, bypass it and go on for now. If you are using dialogue, say it aloud as you write it.

Ray Bradbury (fantasy and horror author; Fahrenheit 451)

  • Advice: To learn to write, write at least one short story a week for practice. Read one short story every night before you go to bed.

Alice Munro (Nobel Prize winner, well-regarded Canadian short-story writer)

  • Routine: Writes every morning, seven days a week from eight o’clock to eleven, has a quota of pages, and walks three miles every day.

Simone de Beauvoir (French writer, intellectual and existentialist philosopher)

  • Routine: Has tea first, writes from ten o’clock until one, sees her friends after that, back to work from five o’clock until nine, goes to movies and listens to the radio in the evening.

John Updike (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once)

  • Routine: Writes every weekday morning, tries to vary what he works on, leaves behind novels or short stories that don’t work.

Henry Miller (famous writer and painter)

  • Advice: Work on one thing at a time until finished. Work calmly, joyously, and recklessly on whatever is in hand. Don’t work according to mood. Stop at the appointed time. See people, go places, drink if you feel like it. Concentrate, narrow down, exclude. Forget the books you want to write; think about the book you are writing.

Leo Tolstoy (Russian author of realistic fiction; War and Peace)

  • Routine: Writes each day without fail, for breakfast ate two boiled eggs in a glass and then nothing until in the afternoon.
  • He worked in isolation, and no one was allowed to enter his study, the doors to the adjoining rooms were locked.

Mark Twain (Novelist and journalist; The Adventures of Tom Sawyer)

  • Routine: Went into his study after a hearty breakfast and worked until dinner at 5:00.
  • Goal: 1,400-1,800 words a day
  • If his family needed him, they would blow a horn.
  • On hot days, he spread the study wide open, anchored his papers down with brickbats, and wrote in the midst of the hurricane.

Charles Dickens (English novelist; A Christmas Carol)

  • Routine: Rose at 7:00, had breakfast at 8:00, in his study by 9:00, took a brief break with his family for lunch, back to his desk until 2:00, took a three-hour walk through the countryside of the streets of London, dined at 6:00 and spent the evening with family or friends, and retired at midnight.

Jan Austen (English novelist; Pride and Prejudice)

  • Routine: Rose early and played the piano, organized the family breakfast at 9:00, settled down to write in the sitting room with her mother and sister sewing nearby, ate dinner between 3:00 and 4:00, followed by an evening of conversation, cared games, and tea, then reading aloud her work-in-progress to her family.

Anthony Trollope (English novelist of Victorian era; Chronicles of Dorsetshire series)

  • Routine: Wrote with his watch before him, required himself to write 250 words every quarter of an hour to produce over ten pages of a novel a day

Bernard Malamud (Pulitzer Prize winner in Jewish American literature)

  • Advice: Commit to writing every day to focus on your craft. Wake up relatively early, block out the first three to seven hours of the day to work in a workspace with minimal distractions. Hide your phone, lock yourself in an internet room, or drive to a local library. Do a physical activity daily and stick with it. Have a daily quota to meet, focusing on the consistency and not the volume of work. Take a few minutes up to an hour or more a day away from the writing to regain your energy and reveal new ideas.

Holly Black (children’s fantasy books; the Spiderwick Chronicles)

  • Goal: 1,000 words a day

Arthur Conan Doyle (fictional detective stories with Sherlock Holmes)

  • Goal: 3,000 words a day

Anne Rice (gothic fiction; Interview with a Vampire)

  • Routine: She wrote in episodic ways with all distractions out of the way, writing from late morning, through the afternoon, and all evening.
  • Goal: 3,000 words a day

Lee Child (British author of Jack Reacher novels)

  • Routine:Writes in the afternoon from 12 until 6 or 7 in an upstairs room as his office.
  • Goal:1,800 words a day

Nicholas Sparks (romance novelist, screenwriter, and producer)

  • Routine: Writes five to six hours a day; a novel takes him a few months to conceive, and five months to write.
  • Goal: 2,000 words a day

Michael Crichton (American author, screenwriter, film director, producer)

  • Goal: 10,000 words a day

Tom Wolfe (author of popular books made into films, The Right Stuff)

  • Goal: 135 words a day

Jack London (known for his classic The Call of the Wild)

  • Goal: 1,500 words a day