How to Be a Writer in 10 Easy Steps

Hone your craft by studying the rituals of world-famous writers. Lesson one: Caffeine, alcohol, alcohol, and more caffeine. And some walking.

“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” Mason Currey quotes poet W.H. Auden in his book, Daily Rituals, a compendium of artists’ daily routines.

In this day and age, it seems like everyone is interested in disclosure—how great artists (or other people we admire) are successful, what routines work for them, what products they use to create their work. It’s as if an imitation—having the right pen or drinking a particular brand of coffee could bring us closer to greatness. If nothing else, learning more about great writers routines just proves how difficult the creative process is, even for those whose output seems to make it look easy.

Daily Rituals contains the habits of writers, musicians, directors, dancers, and artists of all stripes. But readers should take note of the similarities between the writers routines in particular, of which caffeine, alcohol, and office work seem to be the commonalities. As Kafka wrote in a letter, “time is short, my strength is limited, the office is a horror, the apartment is noisy, and if a pleasant, straightforward life is not possible then one must try to wiggle through by subtle maneuvers.” Here then, is how to be a writer in 10 easy steps, according to those who know best.

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