famous authors

Famous Authors and Their Effective Writing Habits

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

July 10, 2023

Have you ever wondered about famous authors writing process? Sometimes, reading how other authors regularly put pen to paper will inspire you to start doing the same thing on a regular basis.

As a writer, you know it’s important to have a writing routine. Whether you can only squeeze out an hour or two a day between all your other tasks or you’re lucky enough to have hours of free time every day, your writing routine is the key to your success. Here are some tips you can gain from the writing processes of famous authors.

Famous Authors Are Consistent

One thing that sets famous authors and successful writers apart is their consistency. They stick to the same routine most days.

“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.

But to hold on to such repetition for so long–six months to a year–requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.”

–Haruki Murakami, award-winning author of First-Person Singular, Norwegian Wood, and Men Without Women.

“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.”

–Ernest Hemingway

Charles Dickens treated writing like he did any job, which is not surprising since he had spent many years working for a living before writing made him one of the most famous authors. He woke early and was seated at his desk by 9:00 am every morning and worked nonstop until about 2:00 or 3:00 pm.

He then went for a walk, but this was not a neighborhood stroll. He walked for hours every day. He would walk up to 10 miles daily and sometimes as many as 12 or 15 miles. He used his walking time to explore the streets of London and the countryside area where his home was. During that time, he would eat lunch and then come home to eat dinner and spend time with his family.

Famous Authors Work the Hours That Are Best for Them

Are you a night owl or an early bird? It’s important to know which hours find you at the most creative.

W.H. Auden, regarded as one of the world’s greatest poets, rose at 6:00 a.m., had coffee, and began writing immediately. Some mornings, he would start by working on a crossword puzzle for a few minutes. He worked until about 11:30 and said morning hours were the best. “Only the Hitlers of the world work at night,” he wrote once. “No honest artist does.”

Auden would take a lunch break and then continue writing until 6:30 p.m., when he broke for cocktail hour and dinner. He went to bed early most nights.

Unlike Auden, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a prolific night owl who slept late every morning and worked late into the night. During these night hours, he began by taking detailed notes for stories and wrote outlines to keep himself organized as he wrote.

“Mostly, though, I stay up to write. I started doing so in earnest in college, when almost everyone stays up to write—to the dismay of the remaining few, a.k.a. the roommates. Half my memories of those years are bathed in the blue glow of a computer, illuminating an otherwise dark room.

(Is it me, or did computers glow more bluely back then? I’m writing this paragraph at 2:30 in the morning, in the dark, on the great-grandchild of my college Macintosh. Its light is as silver as its casement.) I believe I was supposed to outgrow that habit. Instead, I grew into it. Left to my own devices, I write best from ten at night to 4 a.m.…You early birds can keep your worms.”

–Kathryn Schulz, “On Being a Literary Night Owl,” New York Magazine

“I write in my study at my house in Belgravia in London, starting very early in the morning, usually around 4.30 am, dressed in my pajamas, dressing-gown, and slippers. That way no one interrupts you for five hours, in which time you can get a huge amount of work done. (I averaged 5,500 words a day for 100 days straight writing Churchill: Walking with Destiny).”

–- Andrew Roberts, award-winning biographer of Churchill and Napoleon.

Famous Authors Balance Work and Family Life

Famous authors learn how to balance the demands of family life, friendships, and other daily activities.

“I used to say that the school bus was my muse. When it pulled out of the driveway and left me without anyone to take care of, that was the moment my writing day began, and it ended when the school bus came back. As a working mother, my working time was constrained. On the other hand, I’m immensely grateful to my family for normalizing my life, for making it a requirement that I end my day at some point and go and make dinner.

That’s a healthy thing, to set work aside and make dinner and eat it. It’s healthy to have these people in my life who help me to carry on a civilized routine. And also, to have these people in my life who connect me to the wider world and the future. My children have taught me everything about life and about the kind of person I want to be in the world. They anchor me to the future in a concrete way. Being a mother has made me a better writer. It’s also true to say that being a writer has made me a better mother.”

–Barbara Kingsolver, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Animal Dreams, Small Wonder, and The Poisonwood Bible.

Famous Authors Are Consistent

Professional journalists and famous authors know that there’s no such thing as writer’s block. You just sit down, do the work, and try to maintain your consistency. Eventually, inspiration will come.

“This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard, and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.”

— Neil Gaiman

“Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”

— Isabel Allende

Get Inspired by the Writing Process of Famous Authors

Have these famous authors inspired you to come up with your own formula for success? Here are their top tips:

  • Be consistent. Show up to work every day.
  • Find the time of day where you are most creative and productive. Schedule your writing around that time.
  • Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Sit down and do the work.

It’s time to imitate these famous authors writing process. Get started now by following the writing process of famous authors, and when your book is finished, contact Publishing Xpress to get it published.

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