In honor of the recently released Kurt Vonnegut: Letters, Brain Pickings did a feature on the daily routines of famous writers. With excerpts of wisdom from Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, and many others, it's clear that brilliance manifests itself in a myriad of ways.
It was hard to pick our favorites, but Joan Didion's daily writing practice seems to be very effective. Joan said,
"I need an hour alone before dinner, with a drink, to go over what I’ve done that day. I can’t do it late in the afternoon because I’m too close to it. Also, the drink helps. It removes me from the pages. So I spend this hour taking things out and putting other things in. Then I start the next day by redoing all of what I did the day before, following these evening notes. When I’m really working I don’t like to go out or have anybody to dinner, because then I lose the hour. If I don’t have the hour, and start the next day with just some bad pages and nowhere to go, I’m in low spirits."
Did you know that Ernest Hemingway wrote while standing? In a Paris Review interview, George Plimpton wrote Hemingway "stands in a pair of his oversized loafers on the worn skin of a lesser kudu—the typewriter and the reading board chest-high opposite him."
And it seems that Founding Father Benjamin Franklin may have had the nation's first case of OCD:
Writing Pad student Courtney Kocak has an adrenaline-based writing practice similar to Susan Sontag. Susan said,
"I write in spurts. I write when I have to because the pressure builds up and I feel enough confidence that something has matured in my head and I can write it down. But once something is really under way, I don’t want to do anything else. I don’t go out, much of the time I forget to eat, I sleep very little. It’s a very undisciplined way of working and makes me not very prolific. But I’m too interested in many other things."
So what about you, how do you achieve peak performance? Do you write during the quiet hours of the morning or do you respond better to the darkness of the night? Are you regular as clockwork or are you the type to let your ideas marinate until they're nice and juicy?
Carefully consider your own writing process. In a perfect world, what are your most ideal writing circumstances? Tell us in the comments below about your writing practice and what helps and/or hinders your creative flow.