I was chatting with a new acquaintance about my new, more flexible, schedule, and how it will give me the time I need to finish my book. I think I mentioned to him that the first half of the day is for the book, the second half for the paying gigs. I may have mentioned that I still plan to have coffee and read the Boston Globe before anything else, as I have nearly every morning for the past four decades.
New Acquaintance, however, insisted that the only way I can be a succesful writer is if I write immediately upon getting up in the morning, before I even have coffee or breakfast, or read the paper, or anything else.
The fact I’ve written three traditionally published mystery novels had no impact on his insistance that I COULD NOT WRITE A BOOK if I didn’t do it first thing in the morning, immediately upon getting up, before I have coffee, breakfast or newspaper. Otherwise, he said, I’d get caught up in doing other things and would never get around to writing.
The fact that I’ve never ever written in the morning before having coffee and newspaper, as well as often doing other things, and have still managed to write three books that have not only been published, but also fairly well-received, didn’t deter him. He kept insisting.
The fact that I know many many succesful fiction writers, and they write at all sorts of times of day, also didn’t deter him.
Did I mention he hasn’t, to my knowledge, written a novel? Apparently he read somewhere that’s the “only way” Stephen King and Ernest Hemingway were able to write. He also, if I remember the conversation correctly, claims King even advocates for this writing process in his book “On Writing.”
Memo to aspiring writers: Anyone who tells you a writer “has to” do it a certain way, or at a certain time of day, or for a certain amount of time or anything else like that is simply wrong. The time of day you should write is whatever time of day that works best for you. I have never discussed this, or anything else, with Stephen King, but I’ll bet a year’s worth of morning coffee he’d agree with me.
In fact, if you’re looking for writing advice, the best I’ve ever found is my one big takeaway from Stephen King’s “On Writing”: Just sit down and write.