Best sellers are written by ink. But the ink is formed by the blood, sweat and tears of the authors.

A writer’s life may appear romantic. Write a book, publish, sell and sit back and relax. So I decided to investigate how best sellers are written and studied many of the most famous authors of the last 100 years. Here are the secrets I found to how best sellers are actually written.

  1. Wake Up Early – Almost 80% of all authors got up between 5 and 6am to get down to their work of writing. Georges Simeonon, who published 425 books in his career, many topsellers, woke up at 6 to start writing. So did Saul Bellow who worked in the morning till he had reached his target. For almost each of them, there was a dedicated window, mostly in the morning from 3-5 hours long dedicated to the task of writing.
  1. Work when you don’t like it too – They did not wait for inspiration to come to them. They forced it out. Stephen King, the prolific and successful fiction writer writes every day. That includes his birthday and all holidays. He never quits till he finishes his daily target of 2000 words. Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts worked for fifty years, creating his best selling comic strip by hand. Everyday without fail he would get down to work for six to seven hours to create the strip. No breaks, no exceptions. Isaac Asimov, the best selling science fiction writer says – “ I get to work as early as I can. I work as long as I can. I do this everyday of the week, including holidays. I work when I am on vacation and even when I’m in the hospital
  1. Shut out the world – When they work, they are disconnected from all distractions. No phones, internet, email, facebook, visitors, pets, doorbell, food, drink to disturb them. Ayan Rand, the author of Fountainhead, did not get up from her desk when she was writing. She didn’t get up to watch tv or radio but would stay at the desk till she got her work done. Most great authors found a second room, a separate office, an attic,a library corner or some other place to call their focused place of work where they would not be disturbed. Mark Twain could only write the adventures of tom sawyer when he got a dedicated cabin on a farm.
  1. Set a daily output goal – John Updike decided he would write a straight 3 hours daily, Stephen King fixed 2000 words as his output and Edmund Wilson fixed a goal of six pages. A daily goal kept them accountable to themselves no matter what the circumstances.
  1. Recharge –Everyone found their own way to relax and recharge. For some this was doing a second day job, that provided variety and stimulation like George Orwell running a bookshop. For some it’s a hobby like L.Frank Baum, author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” it was gardening where he developed some expertise. 

Best sellers are written by ink. But the ink is formed by the blood, sweat and tears of the authors.

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