64 novels and more than 200 short stories published. These are the terrifying numbers of what Stephen King has done so far throughout his career. Not to speak about the countless awards he’s earned and the movie adaptations. But how can the Master of Horror have written so many books, and how is he managing to maintain his shape after all these years?
Starting back in 1974 with Carrie, King’s success was immediate. His first novel became popular immediately and it is a best seller today. Later, it had a movie adaptation as well. Carrie kickstarted his incredible career and set the rules for horror writing.
In a 2016 conversation with fellow writer, George RR Martin, King explained his writing routine. He said that he writes three to four hours per day, trying to produce half a dozen decent pages. So in this way if the manuscript is 360 pages long, he will need two months of work. This is assuming everything goes according to plan. On his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft he writes that he sets a goal of 2000 words per day. This aligns with what he later told RR Martin.
There are many lessons we can learn from Stephen Kings ways, but we have to understand that King is not the norm. He is an anomaly. Having said that, anyone can apply his writing routines and become a better writer. Some of King’s advices include “taking a good rest”, sleeping well and setting a goal. Also it is important to create multidimensional characters and give yourself time to breathe. Most importantly don’t try to copy someone else.
When all is said and done, King attributes his ongoing success to two things: his physical health and his long-term marriage to fellow novelist, Tabitha King.
“The combination of a healthy body and a stable relationship with a self-reliant woman who takes zero shit from me or anyone else has made the continuity of my working life possible,” he writes.