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  • Lynne Shelby

This Writing Life #1

Have you ever wondered what a typical day in the life of a writer looks like? I’ve been taking a look at the daily routines of some famous authors, past and present.

There can be few writers who stick to a regime as demanding as that of Haruki Murakami (who got up at 4.00 a.m. and wrote for six hours before running 10 kilometres or swimming 1,500 metres or both), but many do seem to have a daily routine that gives them the time to write, and say that they are at their most productive early in the day.

Stephen King writes every day of the year, including his birthday, beginning around 8.30. He continues writing until he has 1,000 words, which can take from three to five hours, and has his afternoons free.

Rose Tremain tries to clear her diary when she is writing so that she can work undisturbed for six or seven hours.

William Boyd writes in the morning, always stops at noon, and goes out to lunch.

Susan Sontag got up no later than 8.00, told people not to call in the morning when she was writing, and didn’t answer the phone.

Jane Austen got up before the other members of her household, but played the piano rather than writing first thing. It was after a family breakfast at 9.00 that she settled down to write, while her mother and sisters sewed, reading what she had written to her family in the evening.

Charles Dickens famously wrote in the mornings and went for three hour walks in the afternoon.

Ernest Hemingway wrote – standing up - every morning, starting as close to first light as possible and going on until noon.

Simone de Beauvoir started writing at about 10.00, worked until 1.00, spent time with her friends until 5.00, and then went back to work until about 9.00.

Do I have a writing routine?

I’d love to be able to say that I get up at 6.00 to go for a run and then write two thousand words before breakfast, but if I’m honest, I actually sit down in front of my laptop by about 9.30, and have been known to check Facebook, Twitter and my emails before I do any writing! I write for most of the morning take a break at lunchtime, and then do a couple more hours of writing in the afternoon - although I do sometimes forget to have lunch if my writing is going really well.

A regular writing routine certainly helps to get a book written, but I try not to be obsessive about it. Even as devoted an author as the great Jane Austen would stop writing and join in the conversation if visitors chanced to call during her writing day.

I’d love to know who else has a daily writing routine.

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