Martin Amis

In doing this research on Martin Amis,  I learned that he normally spends two hours a day on his writing, five days a week. Except when he is in intensive editorial mode where he could spend 6 hours on his manuscript. I like this about Amis because it gives me hope regarding my own writing. Two hours a day seems to be my limit in working on my fiction. I usually work in the morning and then take  a break. I always tell myself that I’ll get back to my writing later in the afternoon. Sometimes I do, but most times – I don’t.

Amis is best known for his novels Money and London Fields which were published in the 80’s. Since then, he’s had published more than a dozen novels.

Suicide figures strongly in his novels, especially in Night Train (1998) a detective noir novel.

Night Train’ belongs to that special class of fiction, the literary genre novel. Amis takes the conventions of the crime genre, and more specifically the hardboiled noir genre; he plays with them, he turns them on their head, and he delivers as a result one of the most scintillating pieces of fiction in a generation.


I once wrote a post In Praise of Messiness .  The odd thing is that I like a minimalist, clean look in every other room in my home but my office. Except for Mr. Amis furniture, I quite like his office. It has that messy , familiar feeling that I am comfortable with.


Martin Amis

Photographer: Eamonn McCabe

I never think, Let’s write a piece of prose that is unmistakably mine. Really, it’s an internal process, a tuning-fork process. You say the sentence or you write the sentence again and again until the tuning fork is still, until it satisfies you. Paris Review

How many hours a day do you spend on your own writing?

What’s your writing space like?



45 thoughts on “Martin Amis

  1. This is really interesting, Carol – thanks. I always like learning about how other writers go about it. I wish I could spend all day writing, but the ‘day job’ doesn’t permit that. Still, I try to put as much as I can into the writing time I have.

  2. Haha – at least YOU know where everything is! I always thought a messy office was a deterrent to crime, 🙂 but I am married to a half French, half Dutch hubby so our house is comfortable but neat. He’s very romantic, clean and very organized – nice combination. As for writing – I seem to write sporadically, sometimes eight hour days and sometimes two, depending on errands. My next book, “Life’s Too Short to Eat Bad Cheese . . .” should be coming out within two months and can’t wait! Blessings and laughs,

  3. My answer to your first question is depressing: about 30 minutes
    This is all I can currently manage. 😦
    My writing space is going to change a little as we are going to switch two rooms. There will always be lots of books around my desk, my little black book, my electronic post its, and my mind maps on the wall. 🙂

    • 30 minutes of good writing is better than 3 hours of bad.
      You seem really well organized regarding your writing space.
      Thanks, Karen, for stopping by and commenting. 🙂

  4. I could not write a comment about your story about the Silver Frame. I wanted you to know I read every word and really thought is was wonderfully written, Carol! I wanted to know about the Aunt in the story, which you told the end of her life, then I wanted to know that the character (first person, you) forgave Bennett and kept his photograph. I liked the final words of her carrying the trash bags of stuff to be thrown out, the tears and the memories were palpable in the words you chose!
    As far as spaces, I write on a love seat, in a notebook then take what I have written to the library and pound it out on wordpress. I would not like the messy desk that Martin has! It did remind me of my Dad’s and I carry in the trunk of my car a pile of papers and one of those huge tubs of his writings, ever since we moved Mom to a senior place. I cannot fit it into my apt. and I need to sort through all the words and stuff. Take care and thanks for this great post and your story,too!

    • What a gold mine you have with all your father’s writings.
      The thought of your car being your “office” brought a smile to my face.
      Thanks you for your sweet comments regarding The Silver Frame. I much appreciate them, Robin.
      Enjoy your weekend 🙂

      • Thank you, Carol for being such a professional in your writing. It inspires me to try harder to be less verbose and more descriptive. I appreciate that you found my huge tub of stuff from my Dad’s desk to be amusing. I need to pin my youngest brother down, have him pick through some of it. I have duplicates of a lot. Can you believe it has been there for almost 2 years now? I am not sure if his writings are a gold mine, since they are his experiences and not mine. I am not sure how that would translate. Since almost every good writer says they write from their own experiences… Thanks for the encouragement, Carol!

  5. I have a beautiful office in my favorite colors of coral, ivory, and black. But I’m always hunched over the laptop in the kitchen doing 14 things at the same time as trying to write something.

    • Your office sounds wonderful. A soothing color as well. I think that your writing in the kitchen while doing 14 other things is mainly a woman writer’s obstacle. I can’t imagine Martin Amis doing such.
      Thanks, Luanne for stopping by and commenting. Have a super great weekend. 🙂

  6. I love Martin Amis. Money was an amazing book. You could always feel the impending doom. I read his latest book asbo. Probably not one of his best but an interesting read none the less.

  7. I think we can tie ourselves up in knots of anxiety looking over our shoulders at what other people do. I can sit at a desk all day sometimes and get very little done. I’d much rather write furiously for a single hour and then enjoy the rest of my day without a care, but it never seems to happen! I tell myself five minutes is fine one day, five hours another. Amis’s two hours sounds very sensible! My only rule is that I try to stay engaged with my writing seven days a week.

    • I like your rule. I think consistency is key. If we wait for inspiration, then we’re doomed. If we wait to be in the “right mood” we’re also doomed. Same if we wait until we’ve washed the car, done the groceries, been to the gym, called up whoever…
      I tend to like to get my writing in, first thing in the morning. That way I can enjoy the rest of the day without the thought that I have to write niggling at me.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂

  8. Lol… seeing his messy space made me feel better about my messy space. I’m with him in the less hours works department. If I try to turn my writing into a 9-5 job it gets draining and I’m less inspired. That said, I still treat it like my job- just honoring that it is not a 9-5 job.. that kind of structure just doesn’t work for my creative flow. Hope you are having a great weekend.

    • Diahann- I think one of the advantages of being a writer is not having the 9-5 job. As you say, that doesn’t mean you don’t treat your writing as a job. In fact, I think writers, in general, are very often working even if they are not actually at their desk or writing. For example, I just returned from the library to pick up two books. One was My Summer With George. This will be the third time I read it but I want to see how she writes the interaction with her female characters. This is not necessarily reading for pleasure but reading as research for my novel, The Dating Club. The other book I picked up was Amis’ Night Train. Researching this post led me to his book to see how he writes a noir novel (I am currently working on a noir novel) and also because I have a post series for my blog that I think this novel could be part of…
      But I don’t tend to count these as actual writing hours.
      I hope you’re \having a fabulous weekend as well. 🙂

      • It’s interesting… until recently, I would feel guilty if I wasn’t literally “working” eight hours a day as a writer- when really, as you noted, writing happens even when you aren’t writing. It also requires a different kind of energy that isn’t served by the 9-5 format. But I have been starting to count all that time – creating in my brain, coming up with ideas, research- as writing/work time. I figure if I don’t start taking my work seriously no one will. It’s really interesting to hear about your work that goes into your posts, as well. If only people who don’t post knew how much work can sometimes go into one. 800 words can take anywhere from a few hours to who knows how many! (not to mention the proofreading and reproofing and reproofing etc.)

  9. I don’t spend enough time on writing… I never thought of myself as a writer so I stick to short poems or Haikus, but I do love photography and I’m trying to incorporate it along with my writing… Good luck on that novel… I sit at the dinning table with lab tap and do my blog… Other times, I use the IPad to read and answer blogs.

    • Thanks for the good luck wishes. There is a certain amount of luck in writing and getting it read.
      Short poems and Haikus are written by writers. Who else? 🙂
      And so is writing on your blog. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.:)
      Photos always add life to a post. Besides, one must do what one loves.
      Have a beautiful Sunday.

    • Hilary-
      Thanks for the link to your office. It was so much fun to have a peek inside your space. It’s an extra layer of getting to know you.
      The writing shouts loud enough – I like that. 🙂

  10. This office resembles mine.:) It’s hard for me to gauge my writing time. Some days I’m lucky to get a few hours, some an hour, and others I may not get the time. Editing and revisions can take up whole days with me (I’m there now). One thing is sure. I like to start writing in the morning before interuptions abound. I’m not one to say I will continue later in the afternoon because I know more than likely. that won’t happen.

    • I’m like you when it comes to writing in the morning. It’s both habit and priority. I still believe that I’ll continue later in the afternoon but more times than not I don’t.
      I keep telling myself that i have to clean my desk. It’s currently a mess. But still, I tend to find myself in this tangle.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  11. Early on (ca. 2009–2010), it seemed I could write for several hours a day, most days. That pace slowed when my work hours increased, but I suspect I would have dropped off anyway. I don’t think I could have sustained that pace over the course of years. Now, sometimes it’s not even 30 minutes. But other days, I can reach that two hours.

    I think you hit on a crucial point in one of your earlier replies—it’s the quality of time spent writing that really matters. We’ll make better progress and create better text when we’re focused, no matter where that may be. If 2.5 hours of a 3-hour session are spent with repeated “quick” email/Facebook/etc. checks, then how good was the 0.5 hours we spent writing?

    • I find it reassuring that writers like Martin Amis write for 2 hours a day. It takes the guilt away of not sitting at my desk all day long, as i tend to imagine famous writers do (and some do). But not everyone.
      Besides, I find myself more relaxed with my writing, more patient. I don’t ask so much from it as I used to.
      It’s not only the quality that counts but also the joy and learning of ourselves that matters in writing, I think.
      Thanks for your comment. See how it brought me to think further? 🙂

  12. Love the feel of his office! I normally write in a study with very organized piles…but lots of piles. Sometimes I let things go crazy, but usually at the end of the day, I put everything back where it goes. When I’m home, I usually get about 3-4 hours a day writing. When I’m in Provincetown for my week each month, I often write 8 hours a day–which is my very favorite thing to do : )

  13. Hi Carol. It’s not just the amount of time that plagues me when writing, but whether I’m in the zone. I wouldn’t call it writers block, just not writing with my wings on. 🙂

    • Thank you, mockingbird. I have found that oftentimes inspiration comes in the writing.
      Having all the time to write can lead to procrastination. I tend to work best with deadlines.

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