R. L. Stine is an American author, best-known for writing horror fiction novels, including the books in the Fear Street, Goosebumps, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly and The Nightmare Room series.
A friend of mine once asked me, ‘How long can you go without writing? Writers don’t retire do they?’ I said, ‘Well, maybe 10 days.’ I’m pretty good on vacations. I can do two weeks, but then I have to get back to it. And he said, ‘Well, you see it’s an addiction.’ And I thought that was pretty smart. I start to feel uncomfortable if I’m not writing, after like two weeks.‘I NEVER WANTED TO BE SCARY’: AN INTERVIEW WITH R. L. STINE | The Verge
By the time R. L. Stine was 9 years old, he knew that all he wanted to be was a writer. “I was a weird, weird kid,” he told Buzzfeed. “I would be in my room typing and I don’t know why, but I still enjoy it. It’s so much fun for me.” It was around this time that the “Stephen King of children’s literature” received the worst advice in his life — his mother said to him, “Stop all that typing and go outside and play.”
Thankfully for Stine and fans of horror stories, the author never stopped writing. Over 60 years later, with hundreds of novels published and millions of copies sold around the world, he’s still at it. Stine’s Goosebumps series alone have sold more than 400 million books worldwide, making it the second-best-selling book series in history, after J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.
R. L. Stine’s daily writing routine
As an author who publishes multiple novels per year, Stine sees his craft akin to putting together parts on a conveyor belt. “In two weeks I can write a Goosebumps book. It’s like factory work,” he told The Verge. “Every day I get up at like 9:30-10, I sit down and I write 2,000 words, and then I quit. Five to six days a week I write 2,000 words. It’s fast.”
When it comes to R.L. Stine’s writing routine, the horror author tends to work backwards, coming up with the title first and going from there. In a 2015 interview with Buzzfeed, the best-selling author described an example of his idea generation method:
A year ago I was walking my dog in Riverside Park and these words flashed into my head: Little Shop of Hamsters. It’s a great title, right? So then I think, Well how do you make a hamster scary? This was the challenge: Do you have maybe a thousand hamsters somewhere, or do you have a giant hamster? And it sort of leads me to the story; it’s what happens almost all the time. I did an old Goosebumps story called Say Cheese and Die, and then I had that title and you start thinking, Well what if there’s an evil camera, and what if some boys discover the camera? What if it takes pictures of bad things that happen in the future? And you just build the story that way. Also, I’m really lucky, I think, because every time I need an idea I have one.R.L. Stine Explains Why He Won’t Stop Writing Anytime Soon | Buzzfeed
From there, he’ll start his outline, which he describes as the hard part of writing. “I do a very complete chapter by chapter outline,” he said. “That’ll take four to five days, but then I’ve done all the thinking; I know everything that’s going to happen in the book. It makes the writing so much easier. Kids always ask me about writer’s block and I say if you plan out the whole thing first, then you can’t have writer’s block.”
I think I’m just lucky. I can always sit down and write. Always. Sometimes I know the writing isn’t any good. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing uphill, and it’s just– it’s not right. It’s not right. But I keep going, because I know I’m going to go back and fix it. I can always go back. But you have to just keep going forward.Combating Writer’s Block and Developing Routines | MasterClass
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