One thing that always fascinates me is the writing habits of famous writers. I love to hear how the writers who made it do the work they do.

Writing Habits of Famous Writers | I love to study the writing habits of famous writers to learn how they approach their work.

Original photo by Heather Ford 

Admittedly, this fascination has been a bit detrimental to me.

Once, in grad school, I asked a writer who came and spoke to my class what her writing routine was. She scoffed and said, “Just do the work.”

She made sure I was sufficiently shamed before going into detail about her specific writing routine.

I’ll never understand why some published writers like to shame unpublished writers just by being shitty, but I like to think that I’ll see them in hell.

I thought it might be fun to inspect the writing routines of famous writers, just because I feel like my routine can always use some shaking up. And hell, if it works for Maya Angelou, maybe it will work for us too?

Before we get too far into it, though, remember you can find information about good writing routines here, and information about how to build a writing habit here.

If you think you do too much to have a writing routine, you know I’ve got a post about writing routines for writers who do it all, right?

And if you’re struggling to start a big writing project, well, you know I got you.

Kate Cavanaugh regularly tries writing like famous writers. You can check out some of her writing experiments here.

Writing Habits of Famous Writers

Not all writers have routines, but some do. Check out these famous writer routines:

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Stephen King

While everybody and their brother has read Stephen King’s On Writing, his routine is definitely worth talking about.

According to a post on Lit Reactor, King starts every day between 8 AM and 8:30 AM, and writes 2000 words. That means he usually finishes between 11:30 AM and 1 PM.

He does this every single stinking day, whether it’s a holiday or not.

And he also starts with a cup of tea or a glass of water, and a vitamin. And he likes to always write in the same place.

Jodi Picoult

One thing I always wonder is how writers get anything done when they have kids.

I know they can, because I know a lot of writers who have kids. But damn. There has to be a dedication to the routine and knowing when you’ve got your work time.

Jodi Picoult’s routine definitely make’s use of her kid-free time.

A post on She Writes states that Picoult gets up at 5:30 every morning and walks 3 miles with a friend. Then, she comes home and showers and gets the kids off to school.

And when they’re gone, she writes until 3:30 PM when her kids come home.

Barbara Kingsolver

Admittedly, I’m not the sort of writer who wakes up thinking about writing. About an hour after I’ve been awake though? It’s like my brain is on fire and needs to put the words somewhere.

Barbara Kingsolver is the type that wakes up and is ready to work.

According to the FAQ section on her website, she likes to wake up super early and get the words out.

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After writing for a while, she takes a break to have breakfast with her daughter and makes sure she gets off to school okay. Then she takes another break later in the day to meet with her assistant and to handle mail.

Kingsolver also sets alarms throughout the day to remind her to get up and stretch, and she likes to end the day with a work out in the garden.

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s writing routine is one that fascinates me, though I don’t think it’s replicable for my budget.

Angelou kept a hotel room that she paid for by the month, and she would show up there and write. According to Business Insider, she wrote by laying on the bed and leaning on one elbow.

Angelou began her day by having breakfast with her husband, and she would try to arrive at her writing hotel room by 6:30 AM. Then, she’d leave by 1:30 PM, and look over her writing around 5 PM.

She never let the hotel staff change the sheets since she didn’t sleep in the bed. She also kept a Bible and a bottle of sherry there.

What’s Your Favorite Famous Writer Writing Habit?

What writer has writing habits that you absolutely love? Any habits that you think are impossible? Do you think you could wake up as early and write as all these folks I’ve mentioned?

6 Responses

  1. Hi, first let me say that of all the different things I have read concerning writing this is the very first time I have left a comment. Not that I have never had an opinion about what I’ve read, it’s just that I have never felt compelled to literally respond. However, that is not this case here. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have been experiencing major frustration for months now with not being able to write for the length of time each morning that I would like to. I am the early riser , 5:30-ish who so enjoys that part of my day only to have to end my writing time by 7:00 to prepare for my workday which does not include my writing. I just turned 62 this year and although budget wise I really can’t afford it, I am applying for early retirement to do what I know in my heart of hearts I NEED to be doing. Do I think I’ll be on the NYTimes best seller list? Maybe yes maybe no but that truly is not my goal. I thank you for this article because you have confirmed that there are those who enjoy writing Full-Time and that doing it everyday is not so crazy.

    I’m just starting on developing my online presence which is another thing I have very little time to do…smh, but I’m gonna get it done nevertheless!!

    I’ll be happy when my 40 hour week is dedicated to my writing and not my outside job.

    1. Hey Cheryl!

      I’m so glad this post resonated with you. And I’m really excited for what the future holds for you. One thing I’ve learned about the full-time writing life is that it’s really way less expensive than the day job life. You don’t need a specific wardrobe, there’s little to no commute, and you find you have so much more time to do stuff, so finding something part-time to supplement your income is pretty easy.

      Good luck on your writing journey!

    2. 😂 I get that! I look forward to the day I earn enough that my time can be dedicated to my writing rather than running around after corrupt companies and requirements of the doll. Too many years have passed where the amount of time I’ve actually get to write rates devastating lower to the hours I spend forced to do the stated above things. Sometimes I swear they do it on purpose to keep me stuck in poverty, so to remedy that I took to writing exposés on their wrongful actions. 😉

  2. Mine is more a favourite writer’s space than routine. I saw in a TV review once the workspace of Nora Roberts and thought I’d glimpsed writer heven! Dedicated space, massive desks and nearly 360′ huge windows with views out into forrest views. Her chair alone likely cost more than my entire house. Nora Roberts is my proof to the naysayers that workspace and origination is Key to writing multiple novels at the same time.

    1. Workspace is crucial. I’m definitely not one of those people who can handle working in a coffee shop. And now I’m going to have to look up the TV show that shared Nora Roberts’s office. I’m dying to see it!

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