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A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write Paperback – January 17, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The premise of Atchity's L/A House method is that discipline leads to productivity and that discipline is a matter of mastering time and the necessary writing skills. Conventional wisdom suggests writing every day, but here we have a case for writing being transcribing what has already been formed in the mind. Atchity propounds a left brain/right brain view of the mind, while applying a nomenclature of "islands" and "continents" that gets in the way sometimes. Index cards and periodic vacations are among his suggestions for organizing materials and using time. Suggestions for equipping the writer's office, as well as marketing and contracting, are included. Fran Lewis, Albany
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Exhilarating. After reading this, you're going to have to write.” (Carolyn See)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Rev Exp edition (January 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393312631
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312638
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #656,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"I believe we can change the world through stories. 'The universe,' says Muriel Rukeyser, 'is not made of atoms, but of stories.' I believe in making a difference in the lives of others through the power of storytelling, both as a story teller myself and as a "story merchant" who enables other storytellers to make a difference."

Dr. Ken Atchity loves being a writer, producer, teacher, career coach, and literary manager, responsible for launching hundreds of books and films. His life's passion is finding great stories and storytellers and turning them into bestselling authors and screenwriters--and making films which send their stories around the world.

His books include, most recently, novels THE MESSIAH MATRIX and SEVEN WAYS TO DIE (with William Diehl) and nonfiction books for writers at every stage of their career. Based on his teaching, managing, and writing experience, he's successfully built bestselling careers for novelists, nonfiction writers, and screenwriters from the ground up.

Atchity has also produced 30 films, including "Hysteria" (Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy), "The Expatriate" (Aaron Eckhart), "The Lost Valentine" (Betty White), "Gospel Hill" (Danny Glover), "Joe Somebody" (Tim Allen), "Life or Something Like It" (Angelina Jolie), "The Amityville Horror: The Evil Escapes," "Shadow of Obsession" (Veronica Hammel), "The Madam's Family" (Ellen Burstyn). Full film bio at

He was born in Eunice, Louisiana; and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where he attended Rockhurst High School (and was editor in chief of The Prep News). After undergraduate work at Georgetown (A.B., English/Classics), and getting his Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale, he served as professor and chairman of comparative literature and creative writing at Occidental College and Fulbright Professor at the University of Bologna. He was Distinguished Instructor, UCLA Writers Program, and a regular columnist-reviewer for The Los Angeles Times Book Review.

As CEO of, his Story Merchant companies, and, provide a one-stop full-service development and management center for commercial and literary writers who wish to launch their storytelling in all media--from publishing and film and television production, to Web presence and merchandising & licensing.


Newtopia Magazine Interview

Mongrel Patriot Review: Producer and Writer Kenneth Atchity by Tamara Spivey

A dreamer who realizes his dreams and helps others do the same, Ken Atchity has impressive credits in the worlds of film, television and publishing.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The title of this book is confusing! It's not *about* time, though time does figure into it, in the sense that Atchity will teach you how to get time on your side through mastering some very basic skills. The secret here is getting to know your brain and familiarize yourself with all the tricks it gets up to in order to undermine you writing instinct.
This book is part inspiration, part how-to, part common sense and part unique insight from Atchity's experience writing, teaching and producing. I found the section on "breaking into show business" least useful, while his concise exposition of the elements of fiction and drama will be useful even for writers of non-fiction who want to spice up their writing.
I must admit that A Writer's Time is a real mixed bag, but I won't hesitate to recommend it. Atchity will micro-manage your writing career if you let him, from how you organize your desk to how many index cards you use to compose your first novel. But all of those are only suggestions, and, as he says, if his suggestions don't work for you, toss them out.
But even if you disregard his suggestions, hang onto this book, if only for its enthusiasm -- it's hard to come by from veterans in this business. As Atchity says, "Writing is a craft. A craft not only can be learned, it MUST be learned."
In every paragraph, his confidence shines through that not only can you do it, but that you will. Atchity is no ra-ra cheerleader -- he knows what he's talking about. He's created many successful writers before, and he wants to help the magic work for you. Get him in your corner if you can.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Never Smile at Strangers on May 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For years, I worked 12-hour days and my average roundtrip commute was 3 hours, which left only evenings and weekends for my writing. It was very difficult to write even during those off-hours because I always felt burnt out and not very creative.

However, two years ago I relocated from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and now I work from home which affords me much more time to write. I was amazed, though, to find, that even with all the free time I have that I still found it difficult to write. So, I decided to pick up this book. Now, I know that I'm not alone--a lot of what I've gone through is shared by other writers.

In this book, Atchity explains how to get the most out of your time and become more productive. Among the most valuable sections for me (& there were MANY) were the ones that dealt with attention span, procrastination, checklists, index cards and using a stopwatch.

I've now reorganized my writing time, space, and find myself to be MUCH more productive. I'm also carrying a stopwatch around the house all day--not that he advocates getting so carried away with it--but I find it very useful in managing my time. I know. . . sounds odd, but hey, whatever works.

Other notable sections are those on recapturing creativity and understanding fear and anxiety. The author helps the reader to understand both and use them to our advantage. It was so helpful to learn that anxiety is a NORMAL part of the process and a writer's life. I was beginning to think it was a mental disorder. NOW, I know better. ;)

I also posted, above my computer, some of the many inspirational quotations which are sprinkled throughout (oh, and the last chapter is chock full of them). Priceless, priceless words of wisdom that never fail to get me going.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By margaret_yang on August 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
from book blogger Margaret Yang of the "Writing Slices" blog

I liked the idea of this book. It seemed like the perfect combination of my two interests: writing and time management. However, A WRITER'S TIME doesn't really help with either. Atchity's writing advice is overly complicated, requiring 1000 completed index cards, three desks, and several ten-day vacations. His time management advice is full of "woo," as if writing is a mysterious process that has to be delicately handled.

Atchity divides his mind into "continents" and "islands," his metaphor for rational and imaginative thought. He insists it's the tension between these two states of mind that creates fiction, and he cultivates that tension by refusing to write. Yes, you read that correctly-Atchity thinks that not writing makes him a better writer. He relies heavily on vacations and unplanned days off. He puts great stock in letting ideas percolate, only touching pen to paper when he feels the time is right.

This is not my experience, nor that of most working writers. Writing is our great joy and passion, but it's not delicate. The faster our pens move, the faster the ideas come. Taking several days off while waiting for inspiration is what wannabe writers do. Real writers write.

A WRITER'S TIME makes a few valid points, like when Atchity distinguishes between beginning, middle, and end time. Writers can't expect steady forward progress. A project moves slowly at the beginning and races at the end. Atchity explains why that is and how to schedule writing time accordingly.
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