When is the right time to write? What is the best setting? What’s the ideal age and stage of life to begin penning that memoir or novel that’s been hiding inside you for years?
These are questions that have plagued established and novice writers for centuries. I recently read numerous interviews with well-known authors that touched upon these questions. Let’s address the first one now, with comments on habits and routines of some well-known writers:
When is the best time to write?
In an interview with George Plimpton, Hemingway revealed his daily routine:
“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.”
During a 2012 interview by novelist Noah Charney, Kingsolver talked about her regular procedure as a writer:
“I tend to wake up very early. Too early. Four o’clock is standard. My morning begins with trying not to get up before the sun rises. But when I do, it’s because my head is too full of words . . . I always wake with sentences pouring into my head . . . I write a lot of material that I know I’ll throw away. It’s just part of the process. I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.”
In 1965, Vonnegut wrote a letter to his wife Jane about his writing habits, published in the book, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters:
“I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30 . . . I cook supper, read and listen to jazz, slip off to sleep at ten.”
Interviewed by Noah Charney, Picoult talks about her approach to writing:
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? . . . If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
-Francine Pappadis Friedman