14 Effective Writing Habits of Famous Authors

pencilsWriting habits—what are they really? If we are disciplined writers are we supposed to hit the computer every day for x number of hours or words? Does it mean letting the dishes rot in the sink until you have your daily pages done? Do the kids and hubby fend for themselves while you slave over your computer? Is it better to doggedly go at the process even if you don’t feel inspired or wait for the muse to hit you? These are questions writers have struggled with for as long as pen, pencil and paper have existed. Take a look at what some other writers have said about this subject.

  1. I write whenever it suits me. During a creative period I write every day; a novel should not be interrupted. When I cease to be carried along, when I no longer feel as though I were taking down dictation, I stop. Francois Mauriac
  2. I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning. Peter De Vries
  3. When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after the 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. Earnest Hemingway
  4. I generally go to work right after breakfast. I sit right down to the machine. If I find I’m not able to write, I quit. Henry Miller
  5. I work every day from ten in the morning till I’m done with my pages. I try not to write beyond a certain point. It’s my experience that if I write too much in one day it kills a couple of days’ work for me after that. I like to keep myself to three or four pages a day. Scott Spencer
  6. I type in one place, but I write all over the house. Toni Morrison
  7. You write by sitting down and writing. There’s no particular time or place—you suit yourself, your nature. How one works, assuming he’s disciplined, doesn’t matter. Bernard Malamud
  8. I’m not a big believer in disciplined writers. What does discipline mean? The writer who forces himself to sit down and write for seven hours every day might be wasting those even hours it he’s not in the mood and doesn’t feel the juice. I don’t think discipline equals creativity. Bret Easton Ellis
  9. It sounds shameful, but on my best days I write only about three or four hours. Anne Bernays
  10. If I didn’t know the ending of a story, I wouldn’t begin. I always write my last line, my last paragraph, my last page first. Katherine Anne Porter
  11. I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. Henry David Thoreau
  12. I put things down on sheets of paper and stuff then in my pockets. When I have enough, I have a book. John Lennon
  13. I just sit at a typewriter and curse it a bit. P.G. Wodehouse 
  14. “You write by sitting down and writing. There’s no particular time or place—you suit yourself, your nature. How one works, assuming he’s disciplined, doesn’t matter. “ Bernard Malamud

I have to admit to practicing numbers 1, 6, 11, 12 on a regular basis. But I probably live by number 7, as I suspect do many other writers.

Most of us have lives outside the publishing world, families to care for, and a laundry list of chores to do that gets bigger with each passing day. But no matter what your writing discipline or habits, one this is certain … if you are truly a writer you can’t help but write. Your love for the written word will catch hold of you no matter where you are or what your life circumstances. So, write on and don’t worry too much about how you go about it!

Which of the quotes sound most like you and your writing habits? Or do you do something entirely different? If so, what?


Catherine Castle
 Catherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author and the author the The Nun and the Narc. When she isn’t writing she loves to garden, sing, and quilt. You can visit her at her blog Romance For the Ages
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14 Responses to 14 Effective Writing Habits of Famous Authors

  1. gailingis says:

    News to me, and inspiring. Thanks for this well-done post.

  2. gailingis says:

    I forgot to mention that my style is #3, first devotions, then write. Has to be early when it’s quiet. This morning though, I started up my wood stove first, sitting by the warmth of the fire and write.

  3. marisadillon1 says:

    Catherine, I agree with you on number seven. It’s definitely difficult to write this time of year when were so busy, but when I do, I find it gives me a little peace during the holiday rush. Enjoyed your post.

  4. Madelyn Hill says:

    #10 is interesting! For me, I’m more like #7 and I like #8!

  5. Excellent post! #4 and #9 resonate with me .:)

  6. For me it’s 1, 7, & 9. Time doesn’t matter to me, so long as I write every day. I don’t try to push past my creativity. Otherwise, I end up with a lot of dreck.
    Merry Christmas & thanks for sharing.
    Tema Merback

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