The Writing Routine of C.S. Lewis

My routine today? Up at 3:00 AM for no apparent reason so I spent the breaking dawn at the computer. Other times I write into the deep night, sometimes in the middle of the day, in the car, on an iPad, in a notebook, sending texts to myself…

I’ve yet to figure the whole routine thing out, but C.S. Lewis was kind enough to share his in his autobiography, Surprised by Joy. Tell me you don’t see a little Hobbit in the patterns of Mr. Lewis. (I know Tolkien wrote the Hobbit, but I also know they were great friends, so it’s not crazy to think Bilbo was inspired by Clive, at least a teensie bit.)

I would choose always to breakfast at exactly eight and to be at my desk by nine, there to read or write till one. If a cup of good tea or coffee could be brought me about eleven, so much the better.

As step or two out of doors for a pint of beer would not do quite so well; for a man does not want to drink alone and if you meet a friend in the taproom the break is likely to be extended beyond its ten minutes.

At one precisely lunch should be on the table; and by two at the latest I would be on the road. Not, except at rare intervals, with a friend. Walking and talking are two very great pleasures, but it is a mistake to combine them. Our own noise blots out the sounds and silences of the outdoor world; and talking leads almost inevitably to smoking, and then farewell to nature as far as one of our senses is concerned. The only friend to walk with is one who so exactly shares your taste for each mood of the countryside that a glance, a halt, or at most a nudge, is enough to assure us that the pleasure is shared.

The return from the walk, and the arrival of tea, should be exactly coincident, and not later than a quarter past four. Tea should be taken in solitude, …for eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably. Of course not all books are suitable for mealtime reading. It would be a kind of blasphemy to read poetry at table. What one wants is a gossipy, formless book which can be opened anywhere…

At five a man should be at work again, and at it till seven. Then, at the evening meal and after, comes the time for talk, or, failing that, for lighter reading; and unless you are making a night of it with your cronies there is no reason why you should ever be in bed later than eleven.

That’s all it takes to write more than 60 books, sell a few million, and be considered one of the greatest contributors to literature the world has ever known. I guess I need to start drinking tea and taking walks.

How ’bout you? What’s your routine?

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s