When it comes to prolific writing, few can hold a candle to the legendary Stephen King. With over 60 novels under his belt, not to mention a slew of short stories and non-fiction works, King has mastered the art of productivity in writing. But what can academics, students, and researchers learn from a horror maestro? As it turns out, quite a lot.
The King’s Routine: A Glimpse into a Writer’s World
Stephen King’s writing routine is famously rigid and disciplined. He writes every single day, including holidays, and aims for a word count of at least 2,000 words. This kind of discipline might seem daunting, but it’s rooted in ala deep love for the craft and a belief in the power of consistency. King once said, “Amateurs sit anuuccessful academics are those who show up and do the work, day in and day out.
Reflecting on my own academic writing journey, I can confirm that my most productive periods of work were when I had a rigid routine of getting up at 4.00 AM and working in a lazer-focused fashion until the kids woke up (at that time, this usually was between 5:30 and 7:00; plenty of time for serious progress, 7 days a week).
Setting Clear Goals
King’s goal of 2,000 words a day is a clear, tangible target. In academia, setting clear and achievable goals can transform the way you approach your work. Whether it’s writing a certain number of words each day, reading a set number of papers, or dedicating specific time slots to research, having clear goals keeps you focused and on track.
Judging from my own experience, it is important to see how different goals make you feel. The important distinction is between lead goals and lag goals. In the former paragraph, setting a goal for writing time is a lead goal. Because you set a goal for an activity that will, eventually, lead to your end goal. A lag goal is a more direct approach towards your goal; setting a specific word count is one example for that. I usually favor lead goals, but sometimes the additional accountability and (positive?) stress created by lag goals works wonders.
The Power of a Writing Ritual
King’s routine isn’t just about hitting a word count; it’s a full-blown ritual. He sits in the same seat, surrounded by the same objects, and listens to the same kind of music every time he writes. This ritual creates a mental trigger, telling his brain it’s time to work.
In academic work, creating a ritual can be just as powerful. Find a quiet space, gather your materials, and set the scene for focused work. This could mean playing ambient music, lighting a candle, or anything else that signals to your brain that it’s time to focus.
My personal writing routine contains three steps: First, remove everything unncessary from the desk. Second, take ten deep breaths. Third, set a clear intention and just go.
My winning writing ritual includes making space, taking deep breaths, setting the right intention, and just starting.
The Role of Environment
King believes that the space in which you write is crucial. He advises writers to have a space with a door that they are willing to shut, creating a physical and mental barrier between themselves and distractions. In academia, finding a quiet, dedicated space for work can significantly boost productivity and focus.
Embracing the Craft
For King, writing isn’t just a job; it’s a craft that he’s spent a lifetime honing. He reads and writes every day, constantly sharpening his skills.
Similarly, academic work is a craft. It requires constant learning, reading, and writing. Embrace this aspect of your work, and dedicate time each day to honing your skills. Read widely, write regularly, and don’t be afraid to revise and refine your work.
The Importance of Reading
King is a voracious reader, and he believes that reading is an integral part of being a good writer. In academia, reading is just as crucial. Stay up to date with the latest research in your field, and don’t be afraid to venture outside your niche. A well-rounded knowledge base makes for stronger, more informed academic work.
Dealing with Challenges
Even Stephen King faces challenges in his writing. When he hits a roadblock, he takes a step back, goes for a walk, or does something else to clear his mind.
In academia, roadblocks are inevitable. Whether it’s a research dead-end, writer’s block, or a lack of motivation, challenges are part of the process. When you hit a roadblock, take a leaf out of King’s book: take a break, clear your mind, and come back with fresh eyes.
The Role of Perseverance
King’s career hasn’t been without its challenges, but he’s persevered through them all. In academia, perseverance is key. Believe in your work, stay committed, and keep pushing forward, even when the going gets tough.
Conclusion: Learning from the Master
Stephen King’s writing routine is a masterclass in discipline, consistency, and dedication to the craft. While the worlds of horror fiction and academia might seem worlds apart, the principles that guide King’s work are universally applicable.
Embrace consistency, set clear goals, create a writing ritual, and dedicate time to honing your craft. Deal with challenges head-on, and remember the power of perseverance. With these lessons in hand, you can transform your academic work and embrace the journey of lifelong learning and discovery.
So, the next time you sit down to work on your latest paper or research project, ask yourself: What would Stephen King do? And let the transformation begin.