How many hours a day do writers write?

Great question. The answer, of course, is that it's as varied as the men and women who call themselves writers.

To gather some information about this question, I went though old interviews with some well-known names. Here are their answers to the same kind of question.

Nora Roberts : I sit in front of the keyboard all day. On a perfect day, I get up and maybe work out for about 40 minutes or so – because I’m on my butt the rest of the day. I usually go up to my office by 9:00 and work for about 6 – 8 hours. And I write…check email…write some more. After dinner, I either call it a day or go back to work for a while.

Janet Evanovich : I'm always working! I usually write seven days a week for a minimum of four hours a day -- sometimes I'm at the computer from five in the morning until ten at night, eating Cheez Doodles, drinking Coke, wishing I was someone else… Nora Roberts, maybe.

Debbie Macomber: I'm an early riser, so I'm usually up by 4 a.m. (That, my friends, isn't a misprint!) I spend the first hour and a half of my day reading my Bible and devotionals and then writing in my journal. After that I'm off to the local high school pool to swim a half mile, and then home to shower and get ready for work. I'm usually at my office before 8 a.m. My office is in a lovely Victorian-style building in Port Orchard, about five miles from my home. My suite of offices includes three desks and a small kitchen/conference room downstairs and a turret upstairs. It is in the turret that I have my working desk. I employ two full-time and one part-time staff members, in addition to a personal publicist. By 9 or 10 I'm usually at my computer, working on my current novel.

Okay, I used to want to be a writer like our Starla when I grew up. She has awesome page production. However, I now want to be Debbie Macomber

In searching through numerous other interviews with famous and not quite so famous authors I found the average daily writing hours are 3 to 4 hours a day. Remember, most authors have other jobs besides writing.

I average 4 hours a day, four to five days a week. I like to write from 10pm to 2am.

How many hours do you write?


Reese Mobley said...

I try to get at least two hours a day of writing time. Doesn't always work like that, but I try. Although I'm a morning person, my best writing time is actually in the afternoon. I have this sense of duty to have the dishes, laundry and house done before I can concentrate enough to write.

I'm gonna have to get over that.(grin)

Rox Delaney said...

I've never kept track. When on deadline (self-induced or contractual), I start writing about 5:30. That's p.m. There's at least a 2-year-old grandson here until then, if not more. I quit around 1 a.m. or later, depending on how much I've written. Many nights it's 2 a.m. There are a couple of breaks during that time. One to pick up a daughter at work, the other to make sure everyone is fed. Right now, I'm writing 7 days a week. I'll be eternally grateful when I reach THE END. :)

Jan Schliesman said...

I try to get in three hours a day of writing time. And I struggle to make this happen during the day, although I feel my most productive time is 6-10 PM. Maybe I'll just have to disappear every night and find a quiet place to write. Any ideas for the east side of Wichita?

Jeannie said...

When I wrote DUTIES OF THE HEART I had a goal of 100,000 words which correlated to 20 chapters at 20 pages a chapter. I wrote 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. That schedule usually left me close to my 20 page goal.

Lately things have been so erratic that I haven't been writing much at all. Thanks for letting me know I was on track with some of the pros with my orginal 4 hour stretch. Due to my current health problems, I may have to cut that time back some, but it gives me a goal to shoot for.

Jeannie said...


I did a newsletter article a couple of years ago about coffee shop noveling. J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame used the technique before she became to well-known to sit anywhere without being recognized.

On the east side of Wichita, I recommend the coffee shops in Borders or Barnes and Noble. They have wi-fi hookups and other people are always using laptops or notebooks, so you don't stand out.

I also recommend taking a kitchen timer to give you a jump start and to help you remember to take short breaks to stretch your legs. If you are by yourself, a set of headphones and a player can be useful. You don't have to be listening to anything, just wear them. It keeps people from coming up and trying to engage you in conversation while you're working.

Hope this information is useful to you.

Rox Delaney said...

What Jeannie said. :) And with 2 B&Ns, you have a choice.

One of the branch libraries might work well, too. I'd check with the staff, but I doubt they'd mind.

I'm going to tell a tale about Jan's friend, Superromance and Love Inspired Suspense author Roxanne Rustand. As deadline looms, she checks into a motel/hotel room for a weekend and does nothing but write. This gives her the luxury of no one bothering her, grabbing a bite to eat when she feels like it, and sleep only when needed, not necessarily by the clock.

Yes, there are times I've considered going anywhere I won't be disturbed. I haven't needed to yet, but I know it's an option. ;)

Rox Delaney said...

Jeannie, have you thought about breaking up those 4 hours during the day? That might help build your stamina.

It can be hard to break it up when you're on a roll, but think of it this way: You'll have extra time in between to think about what you'll be writing next. Mind Writing, so to speak. >grin<

Joan Vincent said...

When I returned to writing in 2000 I wrote obsessively--10-12 hours a day. Too much for a happy home life. When my health problems really got bad in 2004 I couldn't think much less concentrate and write. Since then I've been sporadically productive, at times due to continuing health problems. And worse in a way, I never got the drive/compulsion to write fully back. I am aiming for the four hours writing a day these days. Now to BICHOK

Jeannie said...

Thanks for the thought and the encouragement, Rox. It's something I can work on.

I've been reading THE RODEO RIDER, BTW, and have enjoyed it very much.

I like the conflict over riding and horses. It's a fresh and unusual idea.

Jeannie said...

Thanks for the suggestion and the encouragement, Rox. It's something I can work with.

I've been reading THE RODEO RIDER, BTW, and have enjoyed it very much.

I like the conflict over riding and horses. It's fresh and unusual.

Jeannie said...

Best of luck, Joan. I think you accomplish a lot more writing for shorter periods consistently than banging out a multitude of pages inconsistently.

Take care and keep writing!

Rox Delaney said...

Thanks, Jeannie! It only took 10 years to find the right conflict. LOL

Starla Kaye said...

I actually write kind of sporadically because...well, life gets in the way. Those pesky chores like laundry, grocery shopping, doing everything around the house (except running the dishwasher, which my "dear" husband sees as his personal contribution to household chores). Then there is that need for making extra money by working part-time. The list goes on and on, right, everyone?

Anyway, I like to get to our office by 6:30 am and catch up on writing-related emails and promotional stuff before the rest of the staff comes in at 8. Then I squeeze in my writing times between doing this or that for the office. My goal is to have at least 3 full days a week fully to my writing. Ah, the dream...

When I'm not travelling, I'd guess that I average 30-40 hours writing a week, squeezed in here and there.

Nina Sipes said...

I read somewhere that Hemmingway wrote for four hours and then edited for two. Then he broke for drinks the rest of the day. I want to be him. I'm still trying to find my best writing time. I have always worked well in cafe's and heartily recommend them. They have bathrooms, someone to bring you nibbles, and they don't mind the use of the table as long as they aren't busy. A nice tip is what I leave and a little extra for management to pay for the extra five pots of coffee. People usually don't bother you, and you don't feel cut off from humanity because you can always interact if you wish. I love it. No nagging dishes, wash, vacuuming. No phones--no signal heh, heh, heh. Unfortunately, the best spot for me right now is 45 miles away...