John Irving’s Creative Schedule

When not interrupted by family and travel, the writer begins his work early, keeps at it for hours at a time, and does it every day.
  • Transcript


Question: What is your writing schedule?

John Irving: Well, when I'm not interrupted by traveling, or school holidays for children--those kinds of things--I get up pretty early. I feed the dog, I'm usually at my desk, [by] you know, 7:30, 8:00 in the morning and I work for eight or nine hours a day and I work seven days a week. But there are a lot of interruptions. I have three children, I have four grandchildren, I travel a lot. So I can't say that I work, you know, seven or eight hours a day seven days a week every week, but when I'm left to my own choices, that's what I do.

Question: How often do you change the events once you start writing?

John Irving: Very, very little. Sometimes in the middle of the story, there are things that can be moved around. The beginning doesn't change much, the ending never changes, but sometimes in the middle of the story, an event that I had imagined might be in the vicinity of the fifth or sixth chapter will actually end up being in the eighth or ninth chapter. So, I take a little bit more liberty with the chronology of events, the order in which I'm going to tell the reader certain things, I take more liberties with those things in the middle of the story, but they don't change, it's just their placement that moves sometimes.

Recorded on: October 30, 2009