Writers and Their Habits

8 12 2011

Writers are an interesting lot of people.  They often have some of the strangest habits.  They are all unique.  I’m fascinated by the stories writers tell about how they ply their trade.

For instance, Ralph McInerny.  Dr. McInerny (philosophy professor at Notre Dame for over 50 years) wrote the famous Father Dowling mysteries.  He wrote other novels in different genres.  And philosophical treatises as well.

McInerny really became serious about writing in the early ‘60’s.  He was teaching at Notre Dame, had a large family and had just bought a new home.  He was financially overextended and needed to make money to pay the bills.  He’d done some writing before but had never taken it seriously.

So he gave himself an apprenticeship in writing.  Every night after the children had gone to bed, he went into his basement and wrote.  From 10 PM to 2 AM.  Every night.  Though pooped after a long day, he said about going to his writing desk, “It was as if the sun came up and it was a new day.  I just loved it.”  His story is told here.

He did this for a year and determined that if he didn’t sell anything by the year’s end, he’d find a different way to moonlight.

He published over 50 books before he died last year at age 80.

I’m inspired by hard work like this.  Here are some other writer curiosities:

  • Ernest Hemingway wrote every day for six hours.  Sober.  His average output being about 500 words.
  • Truman Capote always wrote reclining on a couch.
  • Stephen King writes ten pages a day.
  • Dan Brown rises at 4 AM and writes.  Seven days a week.
  • George Will writes his editorials with a fountain pen.
  • Vladimir Nabokov wrote his novels on index cards.

What writers inspire you in your creative tasks?  What are their habits?




2 responses

8 12 2011
Ashley Ellen Smith

When The Original of Laura was published in 2009 the hardcover copy was printed on index cards that you could ‘push out’ from their perforated edges. Nabokov was said to be fond of writing on index cards so he could shuffle them around and play with the storyline. Because this work was published posthumously his intended arrangement of the chapters is inconclusive. Thus, the publishing house added this fun feature!

9 12 2011
Christian Fahey

That is fascinating Ashley! Interesting what some of these writers did to create their art.

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