How Artists Get Stuff Done – Writing tips From Famous Writers

Writing can be a lonely ritual and its hard to maintain a daily routine of putting your pen to paper. Dozens of writing books will tell you exactly when and how you should write, what desk to use, and whether you are better off with a pen or computer. But there aren’t many that will tell you how writers and artists, actually did their work.
Mason Currey, author of the new book [amazon text=Daily Rituals&asin=0307273601], sets out to do just that. His book covers some of the best authors and creators and answers the question that we all want the answer to: How did they do it?Daily Rituals&asin=0307273601], sets out to do just that. His book covers some of the best authors and creators and answers the question that we all want the answer to: How did they do it?

Here are a select few of my favorite writing tips, summarized from the book:

Soren Kierkegaard: His routine included three things – writing, walking, and lots of coffee. He would typically start off writing early in the morning, then go for a long walk around midday. He claimed to get his best ideas while walking. Then he would go back home to write. He kept his energy up with coffee, though it may be more accurate to call it sugar. According to his biographer Joakin Garff, “Kierkegaard had his own quite peculiar way of having coffee: Delightedly he seized hold of the bag containing the sugar and poured sugar into the coffee cup until it was piled above the rim. Next came the incredibly strong, black coffee, which slowly dissolved the white pyramid. The process was scarcely finished before the syrupy stimulant disappeared into the magister’s stomach . . .”

Benjamin Franklin: Franklin would rise early and take his daily bath while reading or writing. Only, Franklin’s bath was not with water, but with cold air. He would sit in his chamber without clothes while “bathing”, and write.

Ernest Hemingway: Quoted from The Paris Review, Hemingway explained, “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 your write.” Hemingway always stood up to write, and kept a chart of his progress so we would never fool himself.

Jonathan Edwards: He spent at least thirteen hours a day in his study writing and working, starting at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. He would often break up his routine with physical activity and always kept a pen with him to record thoughts. He once said in his diary, “I think Christ has recommended rising early in the morning, by his rising from the grave very early.”

Truman Capote: “‘I am a completely horizontal author,’ Capote told The Paris Review in 1957. ‘I can’t think unless I’m lying down, either in bed or stretched out on a couch and with a cigarette and coffee handy. I’be got to be puffing and sipping. As the afternoon wears on, I shift from coffee to mint tea to sherry to martinis.'” (126)

Flannery O’Connor: After her daily prayers, coffee, and going to mass, Flannery would write for three hours every morning. Her usual output was three pages. She once said, ‘I read a lot of theology because it makes my writing bolder.’

Charles Dickens: Would work for hours in complete silence, his office perfectly arranged. His usual output was 2,000-4,000 words a day. He always took a three-hour walk as well, where he would continue to work on his story.

Stephen King: He writes every day of the year, even holidays and his own birthday. He almost never quits until he reaches his 2,000 word daily quota.

What’s your writing routine? If you are struggling with finishing your book, you may need to institute daily rituals like many of the artists and writers in [amazon text=the book&asin=0307273601].