Source: Mayo Oshin, Medium

Several years just flew by and there’s even fewer days left to live for — does it feel like you’re falling further and further behind your goals?

Unfinished and half-baked work, mindless wasteful time spent on the internet and never following through on what you set out to do everyday. It’s a struggle. A painful struggle to do better but always, somehow still falling behind in our daily routine.

Maybe, you feel like you can do so much better, you know deep down inside that you can share so much more with the world. I also share this struggle with you.

We watch those with natural talent and genius realize their potential and share great work with the world. We secretly wish we were born like them and wonder if by some miracle, we could possibly perform at their level and create great work — but how will we ever know if we don’t first realize our own potential?

And is there a way for you to unleash this hidden potential — if so how can you do this effectively?

Yes, the top one percent of performers in any field are usually born with natural talent but, that’s only one half the equation. When we study them carefully, we notice a common pattern across the board — an incredibly efficient daily routine that keeps them miles ahead of the pack throughout their lifetime.

As you read the rest of this article, you will discover and uncover the best daily routines of some of the most famous writers that have ever existed. You will learn how you can develop and use these routines in your own life to make steady progress everyday and consistently follow through on what you set out to do.

At the end of this article, there’s a quick summary of the key common traits and practical takeaways from these famous writers.

If you’re strapped for time you can bookmark this page to read the routines later and skip straight to these bite-sized strategies now.

Let’s get started….

Stephen King: “I try to get six pages a day”

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Photo Credit: Shane Leonard

Best-selling thriller writer, Stephen King, has penned over 50 novels and sold over 350 million copies in a career that spans over 40 years.

In an interview with Game Of Thrones Author, George R.R. Martin, Martin asks Stephen King how he writes so fast and gets so much work done.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview at 50:29:

Haruki Murakami: “The repetition itself becomes the important thing.”

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Haruki Murakami. Photograph by Marion Ettlinger. Courtesy Alfred A. Knopf.

In a 2004 Paris review interview with John Wray, Murakami, regarded as one of the world’s greatest living novelists by the guardian, reveals his daily routine and habits for success…

Susan Sontag: “I will tell people not to call in the morning.”

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Susan Sontag by Peter Hujar

In her 1977 diary, Susan Sontag, critical essayist, novelist and writer of ‘On Photography,’ reveals her private resolutions that helped her stick to her daily writing habits.

WH Auden: “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition”

1948 Pulitzer prize winner, WH Auden is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets, gives us a sneak peek into his strategies for better habits, unleashing creative genius and his powerful daily routine…

E.B. White: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

In a 1969 Paris review interview, E.B. White, the famous author of one the best children’s books of all time, Charlotte’s Web, shares his strategies for dealing with distractions and sticking to his daily writing routine…

Hi, I’d like to give you a free guide to stop procrastinating, avoid distractions and finally focus on what matters most. Click here to get the guide immediately.

Ernest Hemingway: “I write every morning.”

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Credit: Wikipedia Commons

In a 1954 interview, Ernest Hemingway, Nobel Prize winner and novelist, known for his great works including A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea, finally opens up about his real daily routine…

Maya Angelou: “I try to get there around 7, and I work until 2 in the afternoon.”

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Maya Angelou: Credit Adria Richards

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, civil rights activist and award-winning author known for her acclaimed memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman.

In the book, Daily Rituals (audiobook), Angelou describes her daily routine and schedule in detail from morning till night.

Kurt Vonnegut: “I do pushups and sit ups all the time”

In 1965, Kurt Vonnegut, famous American Author known for novel, Slaughterhouse-five, wrote a letter to his wife, Jane, where he reveals his morning routine and daily writing habits.

John Steinbeck: “Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day”

In 1962, American Novelist and Nobel Prize winner, John Steinbeck wrote a letter to his friend revealing his six best strategies for productivity, beating procrastination and to “keep from going nuts.”

Ray Bradbury: “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row….before you go to bed every night, read one short story.”

In a 2001 keynote address, Ray Bradbury, fantasy and horror author best known for his novel Fahrenheit 451, shared stories and crucial lessons from his writing life on how to hone ones craft.

Alice Munro: “I have a quota of pages.”

In a 1994 Paris Review interview, Alice Munro, Nobel prize winner and critically well-regarded Canadian short-story writer shares her daily work habits and goal setting strategies.

Simone de Beauvoir: “I see my friends”

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Simone De Beauvoir: Credit Wikipedia Commons

In a 1965 Paris Review interview, Simone de Beauvoir, French writer, intellectual and existentialist philosopher, shares her strategy for work-life balance in her daily routine.

John Updike:“I try to stay with it even on dull days”

In a 1994 Paris Review interview, John Updike, one of only three writers to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once, shares some tips on how to stay motivated even when you get bored doing work.

Henry Miller: “When you can’t create you can work.”

In 1932, the famous writer and painter, Henry Miller, reveals his “11 commandments” that helped him stick to his work schedule and daily routine for many years.

Here are even more famous daily rituals and routines from the bookDaily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work (Audiobook).

Leo Tolstoy:“I must write each day without fail”

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Image Credit

Russian author, master of realistic fiction and one of the world’s greatest novelists to ever live — best known for his work, War and Peace, shares his strategy on how to finally stick to your goals even if you don’t feel like doing anything.

Mark twain:“I..write..in the same linen we make shirts of”

World renown Novelist and journalist, best known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) on how to find your own style of working daily.

Charles Dickens: “Dickens left his desk for a vigorous three-hour walk through the countryside or the streets of London”

Famous English novelist, widely considered as the greatest of the Victorian era. His best work includes such A Christmas Carol and A Tale of Two Cities. Below you’ll learn his daily routine and weird habits to refocus and generate new creative ideas.

Jane Austen: “If visitors showed up, she would hide her papers and join in the sewing.”

English novelist, best known for penning the popular novels, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility, shares her strategy for eliminating distractions and staying focused on the work in front of you.

Anthony Trollope:”I require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour…”

One of the greatest English novelist of the Victorian era, best-known for his works is a series of novels collectively known as the Chronicles of Dorsetshire. Trollope wrote 40+ books throughout his lifetime. His strategy is explained in Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals:

Bernard Malamud: “Eventually everyone learns his or her own best way.”

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Image Credit: Credit David Lees/Corbis (1957)

In a 1975 interview, Pulitzer Prize Winner, Bernard Malamud, one of the most prominent figures in Jewish American literature, sums up the truth behind finding your perfect daily routine.

How to quickly use these in your life

Whether you’re an aspiring writer looking to publish the next world renown novel, an entrepreneur striving to be the next Steve Jobs or an ambitious professional looking to reach the top of your field — here’s how you can apply these daily routines for better mental and physical habits for success.

1. Commit to working every day

Leon Tolstoy made a firm committment to do something everyday, “I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine”. Stephen King writes 6 pages and over 1000 words a day.

By being consistent every day or at least every other day, the pressure to create perfect work will be alleviated because you know it’s just another day’s work.

Don’t put too much pressure on the final outcome, just make a committment in writing and focus on working on your craft daily.

2. Tackle your most important thing first — in a workspace with minimal distractions.

There’s an interesting pattern in the daily routines of these famous writers. First, they all wake up relatively early in the morning, but, even more fascinating is that they block out the first three to seven hours of the day for focused, distraction free work.

Maya Angelou, for example, blocks out a time window from 7 a.m till 2 p.m to work productively before her day gets chaotic.

Jane Austen asked that a certain squeaky hinge never be oiled, so that she always had a warning when someone was approaching the room where she was working and avoid distractions. Rumour has it, that the Iconic writer at the centre of the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston, hired a man whose only job was to plug her ears while she typed to keep her environment quiet.

Either way, do whatever it takes to do the most important thing first and keep away from distraction. Hide your phone, lock yourself in an internet free room, drive to a local library — do whatever it takes to get in that zone.

This way you can avoid wasting your best hours of high energy, concentration and willpower on unproductive phone browsing and internet surfing.

3. Physically prepare yourself for the mental battle ahead.

Everyday, Murakami runs for 10 kilometers or swims for 1500m (or both) everday — in his words : “Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity”. Vonnegut did push ups and situps as a break from his writing routine. It’s like survival training in preparation for a battle.

The battle that takes place in our mind daily — the attachment to our work, an unwillingless to make necessary adjustments or the fear that people will laugh and think your work is stupid.

Find a physical activity that you can consistently stick to and push yourself outside your comfort zone with. This will help prepare you to aggressively and productively tackle the long hours of work or possibly rejection ahead of you.

4. Create a daily quota to meet.

Anthony Trollope describes his daily quota from his routine, “I write with my watch before me, to require of myself 250 words every quarter of an hour. I have found that the 250 words have been forthcoming as regularly as my watch went..” Alice Munro also held a strict daily quota to complete everyday.

Whatever number you choose, as with any big goal, it helps to break it down into manageable chunks.

Again, the most important thing to focus on is not the volume of work, but the consistency of work — 500 words only takes half an hour a day but over a year that’s approximately 182,500 words — the equivalent of 2 novels.

5. Take breaks at regular intervals.

Charles Dickens famously took three-hour walks every afternoon — and what he observed during them fed directly into his writing. Likewise, Alice Munro walks for three miles everyday to clear her head.

Taking some time off — from a few minutes up to an hour or more a day, can help you regain your energy and reveal new creative ideas for your work.

..Or as Hemingway puts it, “You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again.”

Final Thoughts

In the end, you are unique and there is no particular daily routine that will be a perfect fit for you. Experiment and stick to a strategy that works best for you. And remember this…

But, it won’t be easy. Especially in the beginning, it can be a real struggle to stick with your new habits and avoid falling back to your old habits.

No matter how little progress you feel you’ve made so far, stick to something everyday and that tiny brick you lay today will one day become thousands of bricks — a castle.

The internet is noisy. Want to cut through the noise and and feed your brain with well-researched ideas for better habits? Join 10,000 smart, curious minds and get your brain food at The Smarter Brain newsletter.

Footnotes

  1. Credit to BrainPickingsOpenCulture and Mason Currey, who brought some of these stories to my attention.

This article was originally published on MayoOshin.Com as The Daily Routine of 20 Famous Writers (and How You Can Use Them to Succeed).

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