F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was an American writer, whose works illustrate the Jazz Age. While he achieved limited success in his lifetime, he is now widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the “Lost Generation” of the 1920s. He finished four novels: This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. A fifth, unfinished novel, The Last Tycoon, was published posthumously. Fitzgerald also authored four collections of short stories, as well as 164 short stories in magazines during his lifetime.
At the onset of his literary career he was enlisted in the army and sent to a training camp at Leavenworth, Texas. This was in 1917. He was able to write a 120,000-word novel in just three months. He initially worked during evening study periods and then switched to the weekends, writing in the officer’s club from 1 pm to midnight on Saturdays and from 6 am to 6 pm on Sundays. By early 1918, he had mailed off the manuscript that would eventually become, with major revisions, This Side of Paradise.
After leaving the army, he found it more difficult sticking to a schedule. Living in Paris in 1925, he generally rose at 11 am and tried to start writing at 5 pm, working on and off until 3.30 am. In reality, though, many of his nights were spent on the town with his wife Zelda.
The real writing happened in brief bursts of concentrated activity, during which he could manage seven thousand or eight thousand words in one session. This method worked pretty well for short stories, which Fitzgerald preferred to compose in a spontaneous manner. “Stories are best written in either one jump or three, according to the length,” he once explained. “The three-jump story should be done in three successive days, then a day or so for revise and off she goes.” Novels were trickier, especially since Fitzgerald believed that alcohol was essential to his creative process. When he was working on Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald tried to reserve a portion of each day for sober composition. But he went on regular binges and later admitted that alcohol had interfered with the novel. (Daily Rituals by Mason Currey)