How Jeffrey Archer writes

Jeffrey Archer “I am not a writer, I am a storyteller.”
[address to students in India, in November 2016] Jeffrey Archer

Archer’s writing regime is ruthless. “I rise at 05.30 every morning and I write from six until eight. I take a two hour break and write from ten until twelve. I take a two hour break and I write from two until four. I take a two hour break and write from six until eight. The first draft usually takes about seven weeks, eight weeks. Every word handwritten.”

By the time the book is finished it has gone through 14 drafts and he has spent around 1000 hours on it. “I wish there was a shortcut but there isn’t.” He has sold around 330 million books. His first book, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, published in 1976, is said to be based on his own near-bankruptcy.

Jeffrey Archer I find his writing routine both reassuring and intimidating. Reassuring because I have always been a worker, a doer. I like routine. And the fact that Archer’s books go through 14 drafts is not dissimilar to my re-drafting, though I don’t consciously number them. It is more a matter of them evolving. His writing routine is intimidating because it seems metronomic. He believes in hard work, he tells the student that with “talent and energy, you can be a king. Energy and no talent, you can still be a prince. Talent and no energy, you will be a pauper. What really matters in the end… what will decide your reputation and career, is dammed hard work.”

Watch the speech here.

Jeffrey Archer


‘Tell Tale’ by Jeffrey Archer [UK: Macmillan]

See how these other authors write:-
Emma Flint
Elizabeth Strout
Bill Clegg

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
Why author @Jeffrey_Archer believes in talent & energy via @SandraDanby #amwriting