Everyone who writes, or wants to write, is interested in how others do it.
I think of Graham Greene as one of the great professionals among the writing class. He made it his game to get up every morning and meet his daily quota - sometimes 500 words, sometimes 750 - regardless of what he was doing the night before or what he had to do in the rest of a day. He was also one of those who made constant use of his dreams, keeping a dream journal over many decades and using his nocturnal adventures to fill gaps in a story, flesh out characters and generate themes and dialogue. I write about the role of dreaming in Greeneland in my Secret History of Dreaming.
I have a novelist friend, Terry Persun, whose discipline awes me. He tells me he gets up very early and spends four hours at the keyboard, writing drafts, before he begins his day job. He has managed to publish half a dozen novels with small presses, including Wolf's Rite, has more "in the trunk" (as editors used to say) and will no doubt win a larger audience over time. He is a marathon writer, good for the distance.
I am willing to confess that I am not a marathon writer, and don't follow Graham Greene's example, though in my dreams Greene has urged me to do so. I write almost every day, journaling, blogging and committing poetry, but don't sit down to work on a book draft until I feel a strong wind of inspiration. When that wind is up, I go with it, writing as fast as I can until exhaustion or the calls of the outside world cause me to pause.
I am a sprinter when it comes to writing books, not a marathon man or a steady slogger. Of course, successive sprints, with pauses, can carry you the distance of a marathon. To start a sprint, I need to hear a starter's gun, somewhere in my being. It's also helpful to me to see a finishing line in the near distance, which is why I like to have a fierce deadline - near impossible suits me well - with people waiting, eagerly or anxiously, for me to cover the distance.
Which leads me to a more general reflection on the writer's trade.
As writers, we do well to draw on habits that served us well in any kind of work we have undertaken. If you once worked on a farm, for example, you know how to adjust to the seasons and natural rhythms in a writing cycle, and may have the patience to seed your creative earth, in due time, and wait for things to sprout. If you have thrived on a 9 to 5 schedule, then set yourself regular hours to produce. If you have prospered in group work situations, with lots of meetings and interaction, then you will probably want to be part of a writing circle.
If you were good at pulling all-nighters to get a term paper done, as a student, you may find you are just as good at pulling all-nighters with a current writing project. If you were a journalist, as I was earlier in my life, then you may be geared to giving everything it takes to meet a deadline, and ready to thrive on crisis. That's one of the reasons I am a sprinter when it comes to writing, even if it's a matter of delivering 400 pages rather than 400 words.
I like to write a book in about three weeks, six weeks tops. It may take me years to hear the starter's pistol and get running, though. So I am always liable to be overtaken by the steady person who covers some of the distance every day. When I hear the fable of the tortoise and the hare, I feel for the hare.