The writing habits of Daniel Levitin

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post about the writing habits of Daniel Levitin…

Like many writers, I love reading about the habits of ultra-successful writers.

Perhaps I can learn trick or two, I think. Maybe the strategy that Margaret Atwood/Stephen King/Zadie Smith uses will work for me.

The concept of imitating the masters is smart, I think. Even though it tends to negate the reality that we’ll all different people and each of us has unique motivators.

Still even if we don’t learn anything useful, it’s always good entertaining to read about how others deal with their own writing habits.

A website called Writing Routines offers a once-a-week look at the lives and habits of writers. Recently, they visited with Daniel Levitin (pictured above), a musician, neuroscientist and writer who is well known for his bestselling book This is Your Brain on Music.

I particularly liked the way he answered the opening question of the post — about the when and where of his writing. Here is what he said:

My routine is that I get up early, usually around 5:30 am, take a shower, and then I go right to my writing—wherever I am. Whatever I’m working on, I need to allow myself to become fully immersed in it. I can’t put too fine a point on it, but even minor distraction is the enemy of productivity and creativity for me.

I’ve learned not even to open my email until I’ve written for at least two hours straight first thing in the morning. By the way that shower is a great idea generator—the hot water spraying my head, the solitary and comforting space—I usually solve some kind of creative problem during my morning shower and then get right to it.

Like many successful writers, Daniel Levitin writes at one end of the daytime spectrum (early morning or late at night) and he has also discovered the creative benefits of the very hot shower.