Becoming a successful writer is often more about the dedication you put into your work than anything else. Of course, there has to be a desire to write and a talent to put thousands of words into something coherent and interesting, but there are times, even for the most successful writers, when they need a little extra help.
Each author will have their own way of solving a tricky plot line or creating an interesting premise, and successful author Dan Brown is no exception. The American teacher turned author has sold over 250 million copies and had his books translated into over 56 languages. He developed the successful Robert Langdon series of books including The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons that were adapted into movies starring Tom Hanks.
However, as successful as Dan Brown is, even he sometimes has moments when he needs to think about his story and figure out a complicated plotline. Every writer has their own routine that ensures they get the most from their time, and that as little of that as possible is spent procrastinating or staring out of the window.
In 2018, Dan Brown joined the MasterClass, which is an online celebrity tutorial company aimed at helping authors hone their skills and learn what it takes to create a successful book. These classes are often as much about how the famous authors work and get the words on the page as anything else.
While there are many courses that writers can take, those hosted by successful authors are compelling to others. They are interested in learning what they did and how their work schedule helped them concentrate. It is also helpful for them to realize that even the most successful writers sometimes struggle sometimes.
In an interview that Brown gave before starting the MasterClass, he spoke about some of the ways he focuses on his work and tries to keep the ideas flowing.
One of the things that he finds helpful is to start early, at 4 am to be precise. Not only does he feel that this is his most productive time of the day, but at that time in the morning, there are fewer distractions such as emails and phone calls.
Brown also said that he likes to get from the sleep state to working as quickly as possible. In an article in The Guardian online, he explains:
“I’ll sprint to the kitchen, grab a spinach smoothie and some coffee and get straight to my office.”
Like many writers, Dan Brown likes to maintain a disciplined work schedule so that he can get the most from his day. When he gets to his office to write, he will generally do between six to nine hours of work per day. This will include either editing, writing, or outlining, depending on what needs to be done.
However, as important as writing is, there is also a need to take regular breaks to keep the mind active. To do this, Brown has an app that makes his computer screen go dark for one minute each hour. This then encourages Brown to get up and move around.
During this time, he will usually do push-ups, sit-ups, and other exercises to get the blood flowing and refresh him. He has also taken to wearing gravity boots during this time, though he has since changes to an inversion table. Speaking about it in The Guardian, Brown said:
“My wife was very concerned that I would pull myself up into these gravity boots and not have the strength someday to get back and just be hanging there forever.”
Writer’s block is something that many authors fear, not only because it can interrupt their creative process, but also because they worry the ideas may never return. The cruel irony is that the more an author worries about writer’s block, the more likely it is to strike and remain for an extended period.
Most authors have their own methods for countering this, and Dan Brown has his own unique ways of doing so. Part of this is what he uses the inversion therapy for, he finds that hanging upside down helps to make him feel refreshed and enables him to solve plot challenges by shifting his perspective. He used this technique when writing The DaVinci Code to help him with the codes.
Another way that Brown alleviates writer’s block is to write. He writes something that no-one else will see and that will eventually help him to get back to something that’s good. Using this process he said, “I throw out about 10 pages for every one that I keep.”
At the heart of any good book is research, and in the MasterClass, Dan Brown details how he gets the ideas and concept of his books and fills them out with research. He explains how research about the world is how he finds the ideas for he novels, he will then concentrate on those areas for more detailed research.
For example, when he was researching for his book ‘Origin’ he read books on history, art, philosophy and conspiracy theory. He also read four books that stated Darwin’s theories were wrong and evolution isn’t happening. Although he didn’t agree, it gave him an angle for his characters to discuss in the book and explore the ideas that make good people do bad things and bad people do good things.
Although not every author will use inversion therapy to help them, there is a case for doing what works to help get past writer’s block and encourage those ideas to start flowing.