The Rosie Project author on productive days writing nothing

Do not adjust your sets. Yes, we really did just say that you can be a productive writer without actually writing a word. At least that’s how Graeme Simsion (author of the ridiculously popular 2013 smash hit, The Rosie Project) sees it.

Well, kind of anyway. It’s true that The Rosie Project does indeed have words – around 75,000 of them, and that Graeme actually did write them himself. In fact, when we spoke to him in Episode 1 of our top rating podcast So You Want to Be a Writer earlier this year, he also had some interesting things to say about the evolution of the story from screenplay to novel.

What our headline is really talking about is Graeme’s writing routine. Namely, he doesn’t have one.

He doesn’t hate them and wishes you all the best with yours, but sitting down to write a certain number of words each day just doesn’t do it for him. Looking at his former day job, it’s easy to see why it ended up this way. He worked long hours travelling long distances, leaving no time or energy to write, followed by several days off. “I just grab time when I can,” he told Allison Tait in the podcast interview. “Sometimes I work eight or nine hours a day writing… and other days, many days – I do nothing at all.”

But even the ‘nothing days’ can bring something. Graeme is a big believer in the organic, peripheral stuff that goes into creating a successful book. “People are told to write every day. But there are a lot of activities around producing a novel which are not writing prose… they’re problem solving.”

This example sums it up best:

“I spent a full day just walking around trying to come up with the first sentence for The Rosie Project. I wanted a strong sentence. Now, I didn’t do any writing that day, but it was a very important day in the production of that book.”

Some people need a strict writing routine, others follow something more like Graeme’s path. Which are you?

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Graeme Simsion


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