The Night Shift — How 5 Famous Authors Found The Time To Write


Most writers have a full-time career, children, family and social commitments. Where do you find time to work on your own stories? Let’s face it, only those at the top of the pyramid have the luxury and security of writing all day. The rest of us have to carve out time to write after hours. Here are five ideas to help you find a workable solution.

  1. Become a night owl. When she was starting out, Danielle Steel would make herself a cup of herbal tea, pin her hair up, set herself down in front of her vintage typewriter and hammer away at her manuscript. She’d usually start at 11 p.m. and write in to the early hours of the morning.
  2. The early bird. Novelist Beryl Bainbridge would get up at five before her children and write with her notebook balanced on the washing machine as she did a load of laundry.
  3. Mark the change. Crime writer Patricia Highsmith would come home, have a bath and change into different clothes before she settled down to write her own stories. This little ritual helped her separate her working life with her rich creative interior world.
  4. Set a timed challenge. Prolific writer Anthony Trollope was also and early riser. He’d write between 5:30 and 8:30 and with his watch in front of him. He’d require himself to write 250 words every quarter of an hour.
  5. Make the most of days off. Stephen King famously admitted that he writes on Christmas Day. If you’re a compulsive writer, any day off is a great time to catch up on writing. Your imagination doesn’t know it’s a public holiday.

The lesson here is that if you really want to finish a book or a screenplay, you will find a way to make it happen – even if it means you go with less sleep!

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course.

If you enjoyed this post, you will love Wants, Needs, Fears – The compelling triangle of motivation

This article has 0 comments

  1. G-Dude

    Well, that’s just f’n lovely advice, Anthony – except the first two you mentioned were not holding down full time jobs while writing late or early. Nowadays, a full time job means 60 hours a week, and if you’re not getting enough sleep, you’ll soon be without a job, or without a book, or both. Since you need your brain in order to write, and your brain needs sleep in order to function, it is hardly a good idea to suggest that one simply needs to sleep less. Setting a tight window of a couple of hours, however, either at night before bed or early in the morning, is a much more workable solution. I strongly recommend the following book, written by a dear friend: http://www.amazon.com/Writer-Day-Job-Inspiration-Exercises/dp/1582979960/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416413760&sr=8-1&keywords=writer+with+a+day+job&pebp=1416413761867

  2. Anthony Ehlers

    You’ve raised some great points. The work-writing balance is one I’m struggling with at the moment. The scheduled, tight windows of time probably work best.
    BTW, as memory serves me, Danielle Steel had a job at an ad agency when she wrote her first books, and BB having children and a household to take care of certainly had a fullt-time job -on her hands 🙂

Comments are now closed.