Brain Pickings

Joy Williams’s Daily Writing Routine


“…all messages which will fuel the morrow’s pages coming to me in friendly and artful dreams…”

This omnibus of the daily routines of famous writers endures as the second most popular Brain Pickings article of all time. (For the curious, this is the first.) From the new anthology Always Apprentices: The Believer Magazine Presents Twenty-Two Conversations Between Writers (public library) comes a beautiful contribution by novelist and essayist Joy Williams, who knows a thing or two about why writers write. Like Edison, she enjoys a good nap. Like Thoreau and Virginia Woolf, she finds creative fuel in nature. Like Henry Miller, she makes a point of seeing friends.

This is her day:

Tea and fruit in the morning, then four or five hours of solid work, a salad for lunch. A nap, in which my lost loved ones come to me and tell me they’re happy and still love me, a walk through bird-songed woods, followed by several more hours of oxygenated work. Drinks with friends, each more accomplished and interesting than the other, then bed, windows flung open to the soothing pounding of the sea, turning rock over rock, all messages which will fuel the morrow’s pages coming to me in friendly and artful dreams…

The rest of Always Apprentices, a sequel to the 2008 tome The Believer Book of Writers Talking to Writers, offers five years’ worth of conversations with literary icons, including Don DeLillo, Mary Gaitskill, and reconstructionist Joan Didion.

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