Tag Archives: daily rituals of writers

Daily Rituals of Writers: Nathaniel Hawthorne

atkins-bookshelf-literatureJust about every U.S. high school student is introduced to American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) when they are assigned to read The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850. But what most students don’t know is that Hawthorne adopted a very isolated, structured, and monotonous daily ritual which was ideal for him to deeply ponder the essence of humanity and explore the thought-provoking issues of evil and sin. And they probably are not aware of this fun fact about this reclusive author: Hawthorne was a chocoholic! We get a glimpse of Hawthorne’s daily ritual from legendary literary critic Malcolm Cowley’s introduction in The Portable Hawthorne (1969):

“As the years passed he fell into a daily routine that seldom varied during autumn or winter. Each morning he wrote or read until it was time for the midday dinner; each afternoon he read or wrote or dreamed or merely stared at a sunbeam boring in through a hole in the blind and very slowly moving across the opposite wall. At sunset he went for a long walk, from which he returned late in the evening to eat a bowl of chocolate crumbed thick with bread and then talk about books with his two adoring sisters, Elizabeth and Louisa, both of whom were already marked for spinsterhood; these were almost the only household meetings…

In summer Hawthorne’s routine was more varied; he went for an early-morning swim among the rocks and often spent the day wandering alone by the shore, so idly that he amused himself by standing on a cliff and throwing stones at his shadow. Once, apparently, he stationed himself on the long toll-bridge north of Salem and watched the procession of travelers from morning to night. He never went to church, but on Sunday mornings he liked to stand behind the curtain of his open window and watch the congregation assemble.”

In 1842, Hawthorne (then 38 years old) married Sophia Peabody. She was just as reclusive as Hawthorne which allowed him to keep to his daily routine relatively unchanged. Just as he did during his single days, Hawthorne would stay in his study until dinner time — which for him was 2:00 pm (and you thought elderly people who eat dinner at 5:00 pm was strange!) — and Sophia would join him for dinner. An hour later, he would walk alone to the village to visit the post office and the library. Before the sun set, he would return home and then take a short walk with Sophia to a river located near their home in Concord. Then they would return home, have tea together, and read aloud to one another for a few hours each evening. Now close your eyes for a moment and picture that scene: a middle-aged married couple, sitting by the fireplace reading stories and poems to one another. Could anything be sweeter or more romantic than that?

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Read related posts: Daily Rituals of Writers: Truman Capote
Daily Rituals of Writers: William Faulkner
Daily Rituals of Writers: Isaac Asimov

What Would Famous Authors Order at Starbucks
The Daily Word Quotas of Famous Authors
Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
Words Invented by Famous Authors
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Hair of the Dog
There’s A Word for That: Potvaliant
Three Sheets to the Wind

For further reading: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey (2013)


Daily Rituals of Writers: Raymond Chandler

atkins-bookshelf-literatureEvery writer has his or her own ritual to getting in the zone to write fluidly whether in short bursts or marathon sessions. Legendary detective fiction writer and screenwriter Raymond Chandler — best known for The Big Sleep (1939) Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Long Goodbye (1953) — wrote best when he was drunk.

In the mid 1940s, Paramount hired Chandler to write a rush script based on his half-finished novel, The Blue Dahlia. Due to the short time-frame, the studio began shooting with a partial script, but soon the filming caught up to the script. The producer of the film, John Houseman, met with Chandler to find out how to motivate him to finish the script as quickly as possible. Chandler explained that he wrote faster when he was drunk. Consequently, he presented a list of his requirements: (1) two limos with drivers available 24×7 to deliver script pages to the studio, get a doctor, and a maid who could buy him alcohol; (2) secretaries to take dictation; and (3) a direct line to the producer. Houseman agreed to the terms, and over the next eight days, a very inebriated Chandler cranked out the rest of the script. The typical cycle was that Chandler would drink, pass out, write, drink some more and pass out; twice a day a doctor would inject him with vitamins and hook him up to a glucose intravenous drip. After he completed the project, it took Chandler a month of bed rest to recover.

Read related posts: Daily Rituals of Writers: Truman Capote
Daily Rituals of Writers: William Faulkner
Daily Rituals of Writers: Isaac Asimov

What Would Famous Authors Order at Starbucks
The Daily Word Quotas of Famous Authors
Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
Words Invented by Famous Authors
Word Related to Drinking

Hair of the Dog
There’s A Word for That: Potvaliant
Three Sheets to the Wind

For further reading: Writers Gone Wild by Bill Peschel (2010)


Daily Rituals of Writers: Isaac Asimov

atkins-bookshelf-literatureScience fiction writer Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) was one of the world’s most prolific authors, having written more than 506 works during his lifetime. Asimov credits his father for his strong work ethic. His father, Judah Asimov, managed a candy store in Brooklyn, New York, and each day he would open the store at 6:00 am and closed it at 1:00 am. Every member of the family was expected to work at the candy store. “I must have liked the long hours,” he explained in his memoir, “for in later life I never took the attitude of ‘I’ve worked hard all my childhood… and now I’m going to take it easy and sleep until noon.’… I have kept the candy store hours all my life… I can only say that there were certain advantages offered by the candy store that had nothing to do with mere survival, but, rather, with overflowing happiness, and that this was so associated with the long hours as to make them sweet to me and to fix them upon me for all my life.” Asimov also credits the candy store, since it also sold magazines and newspapers, for his introduction to and lifelong passion for reading and writing. Sweet.

Read related posts: Daily Rituals of Writers: Truman Capote
Daily Rituals of Writers: William Faulkner
What Would Famous Authors Order at Starbucks

The Daily Word Quotas of Famous Authors
Random Fascinating Facts About Authors
Words Invented by Famous Authors

For further reading: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey (2013)
I. Asimov: A Memoir by Isaac Asimov (1994)


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