The daily rituals of some of my favourite writers

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I’ve always been interested in the daily rituals of writers I admire. Do they write first thing in the morning or late at night? Do they work standing up (like Hemingway) or lying down (like Capote)? Establishing a routine is pretty important to most writers I know. My own routine changes depending on the project I’m working on, but for the most part I like to get up early, eat breakfast and get right to work, drinking as much coffee as possible throughout the morning. Ideally, my afternoons are for non-creative work (email, social media, research…) and for a long walk to clear my head. And maybe a nap, if I’m lucky.
The new book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work  by Mason Currey details the working habits of 161 “inspired minds”, as he refers to them. Basically writers, artists, composers. People who have done something that someone somewhere admires. How did they find the time? How did they get it done? In this article, Mason says that “writers seem to be the most prone to unshakeable routines and elaborate superstitions.” Here are the daily rituals of five of my favourite writers:

Stephen King
(as seen in the photo above)
– writes every day, no matter what
– starts early and writes until he meets his daily quota of 2000 words
– takes a nap in the afternoon

Charles Dickens
– worked in total silence from 9am until 2pm, stopping only for lunch
– some days he would write thousands of words, other days he would doodle and stare out the window
– took a three-hour walk right at 2pm, thinking about his story the entire time

Gustave Flaubert
– after a full day of lessons and spending time with his family, he wrote late at night when everyone else slept
– writing took him a long time because he would go over sentences dozens, sometimes hundreds of times (always searching for le mot juste)
– as frustrating as writing was, he felt that “work is still the best way of escaping from life!”

L. Frank Baum
– ate a big breakfast and drank about five cups of coffee, then tended to his garden until lunch
– started working in the afternoon, writing longhand on a clipboard with a cigar in his mouth
– he didn’t always spend a lot of time writing: “My characters just won’t do what I want them to.”

Ernest Hemingway
– woke up early, “as soon after first light as possible”, even when he was out drinking the night before
– wrote standing up
– tracked his daily word count

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