Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

A writer’s routine: John le Carré

with one comment

Le Carré: Well, I still don’t type. I write by hand, and my wife types everything up, endlessly, repeatedly. I correct by hand too. I am an absolute monk about my work. It’s like being an athlete: you have to find out which are the best hours of the day. I’m a morning person. I like to drink in the evening, go to sleep on a good idea and wake up with the idea solved or advanced. I believe in sleep…I always try to go to sleep before I finish working, just a little bit before. Then I know where I’ll go the next morning, but I won’t quite know what I am going to do when I go. And then in the morning it seems to deliver the answer…

Interviewer: With this monkish routine, how many words do you produce each day?

Le Carré: I don’t know. When it’s going well it goes terribly fast. It isn’t at all surprising to write a chapter in a day, which for me is about twenty-two pages. When it’s going badly, it isn’t really going badly; it’s just the beginning. The first page and the first chapter are a matter of endless fiddling, cutting out all the good bits, putting in a whole lot of verbiage. Actually, it’s my only way of thinking. Without a pen in my hand I can’t think. And by the way, not every aspect of the monk is observed.

The Paris Review

Written by nevalalee

February 19, 2011 at 8:24 am

Posted in Books, Writing

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. Well there you have it.

    Arthur

    February 19, 2011 at 10:21 am


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