How to Write a Book

Virginia Woolf's writing room, at Monk's House. Photo by Ann Daly

Virginia Woolf’s writing room, at Monk’s House. Photo by Ann Daly

“We should have felt it to be not merely wrong, but unpleasant not to work every morning for seven days a week and for about eleven months a year. Every morning, therefore, at about 9:30 after breakfast each of us, as if moved by a law of unquestioned nature, went off and ‘worked’ until lunch at 1. It is surprising how much one can produce in a year, whether of buns or books or pots or pictures, if one works hard and professionally for three and a half hours every day for 330 days. That was why, despite her disabilities, Virginia [Woolf] was able to produce so very much” — Leonard Woolf

July 28 addendum:

Normally, I’d never lump Virginia Woolf and Candace Bushnell together, but here’s what the ‘Sex in the City’ author recently told an interviewer about her writing process:

“Each day I get up, have an Earl Grey tea with lemon, read ‘The New York Times,’ check my emails and then I just try to get to work and write. I usually work five or six hours and then I’ll go and ride my horse and/or go mountain biking. When I am writing it’s a very simple life, so then I’ll go home [and] make dinner. I’ll get ideas and I’ll take notes while I watch a little bit of TV — sometimes ‘The Bachelor’ or ‘The Bachelorette,’ some sort of reality show usually — and then I go to bed and get up and do it all over again. It’s a pretty disciplined life.”

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One Response to How to Write a Book

  1. Peggy Kelsey July 23, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    Yup, that’s how I got my book, Gathering Strength: Conversations with Afghan Women, written. My timing was more flexible, but the amount of time was not and a year later, I had written the whole thing. But as authors know, writing is only the beginning of the work and it has been important to keep up the commitment throughout the stages of book production and marketing.