Some always outline; others never do. Some write in cafes or Airbnbs; others don’t leave the house. Here’s a peek at the writing habits of authors on this week’s best-seller lists.
Jia Tolentino, the New Yorker journalist whose essay collection, “Trick Mirror,” has been on the list for four weeks, told The Creative Independent that when she got her book contract, “I found that I couldn’t switch into book-writing very easily … in part because I work at home. I needed to physically be totally alone and be in a different place to get going.” So she “started renting upstate Airbnbs for four days at the beginning of every month, as a way to bang out” her rough draft.
The novelist Ruth Ware, whose latest thriller, “The Turn of the Key,” is at No. 8, writes on her website that room arrangement is key: “My desk faces a blank wall, which is deliberate, because I prefer to make sure the pictures in my head are more interesting than the view in front of me.”
David Baldacci, the author of the No. 6 novel, “One Good Deed,” told Writer’s Digest, “During the course of the day I might work on three or four different projects, but only when I run out of gas on one do I move on to another. I write until my tank is empty each day. I don’t count words or pages or whatever — that seems like an artificial goal for me.” He doesn’t outline: “I’m very much a writer who lets the story develop,” he once told The Daily Beast. “I have no idea how the book is going to end. … I don’t know what my characters are capable of until I spend a hundred pages with them.”
For his part, Colson Whitehead — whose new novel, “The Nickel Boys,” is at No. 7 — shoots for eight pages a week, though he doesn’t sit down to write every single day. “That seems sort of fascistic and not very fun,” he recently told “CBS Sunday Morning.” He is a big believer in outlines: “It’s hard enough to find the right words. If you don’t actually know, like, where the story’s going, it seems sort of useless.”
Alex Michaelides, the author of the No. 9 novel, “The Silent Patient,” told The Big Thrill magazine earlier this year, “I tend to outline a great deal. … It might not work so well if you want to be surprised during the writing, but for the kind of book I write … everything needs to be planned meticulously.”
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