Mastodon The Writing Desk: Dean Koontz’s Writing Habits

6 July 2014

Dean Koontz’s Writing Habits

Dean Koontz is listed by Forbes as one of America’s best-selling authors, with reported annual sales of over $24 million. Koontz has had fourteen titles on the New York Times bestseller list, with his work at the top of the list four times

It wasn’t easy for him though, as he says, ‘I sold the first short story I wrote. Then I received over seventy-five rejections before making another sale. My first four novels were never published. Later, after I’d been selling genre fiction routinely, I wrote a mainstream novel and editors sent me enthusiastic letters about it but turned it down because they felt it was too disturbing and avant-garde to be commercial.’

Undaunted, Koontz decided that writing novels was the only work he wanted to do and put in sixty-hour weeks at his typewriter, developing his well proven novel format.  When he finished his first New York Times best-seller, Whispers, his wife pointed out that for every page in the final manuscript, he’d used thirty-two pages of typing paper,  laboriously re-typing eight hundred pages of text over and over before he was satisfied.

IBM Displaywriter
An obsessive re-writer, Koontz decided to invest in one of the expensive new word processors, the IBM Displaywriter, storing his work on massive eight inch floppy disks and printing out the pages on a daisywheel printer. He still worked for ten hours at a time but was now able to revise his work on screen, rather than waste time re-typing.

He was pleased if he managed half a dozen finished pages a day, and said, ‘The secret is doing it day after day, committing to it and avoiding distractions. A month goes by and, as a slow drip of water can fill a huge cauldron in a month, so you discover that you have seventy-five polished pages.’

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  1. For somebody who's just started out - finished a first novel - reading this is most useful. Thankyou!

    1. Thanks - and I'm glad we don't have to rely on typewriters!


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