Writing as a 9-to-5 job?

In an interview with Allen Salkin for New Books in Food, food writer Ruth Reichl talks about (among other things) her writing process. Most people expect writers to keep irregular hours– after all, that’s one of the perks of the job. But when writing fiction (her latest work), Reichl works from 9 to 5 every day, writing in an isolated shed downhill from her house.

She has a specific environment in which she can stay focused and uninterrupted, and says that she tries to model her environment on the MacDowell colony, a retreat for artists. The MacDowell colony provides artists of all mediums a studio and living space (along with meals and other amenities) in order to nourish their creativity and support the creation of art.

This writing process is extremely different from the one she had during her restaurant critiquing days, but as her novel is her most recently published material and her current project, I chose to focus on the writing process for that.

You can listen to the interview here: https://www.creativenonfiction.org/online-reading/ruth-reichl



2 thoughts on “Writing as a 9-to-5 job?

  1. Jasmine Ly March 9, 2015 / 11:02 pm

    I think a routine is very important in becoming a talented, published writer. Just because you have the ability to work crazy hours because you don’t have a typical desk job doesn’t mean you have to, nor does it mean that you should. I read a collection of writing tips recently, and one of them said something along the lines of “Don’t wait for inspiration to strike, if you do, you’ll never get any writing done.” Writing isn’t always that romanticized grand ritual, typewriter clicks and cigar and city smog and all. Writing can be that boring office desk job; sometimes it has to be. I also find it interesting that most writers, when discussing their process, have to be isolated from the rest of the world. But I guess if you’re busy creating a world, you can’t really live in this one at the same time, can you?


  2. alivalerio March 16, 2015 / 12:28 am

    Wow, this is fascinating! I really love this. Ruth Reichl sounds like a smart woman. It does sound completely natural for writers to write at different times of the day (early morning or late night) and almost unnatural to hear about writers writing from 9 to 5. I’ve never heard of the MacDowell colony, but it sounds really neat. I also do best when I’m writing completely with no interruptions and as isolated as possible. It makes me wish I had a place like that I could go to. I also thought it was worth mentioning on of the last points you touched on in your post. Reichl’s writing process was completely different as a restaurant critic, and it makes me wonder how often writers change their writing strategies when they do different types of work. I think that would be something worth looking into as well. Nice job!


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