Daily Beast Interviews Richard Posner About His Writing Habits

How I Write: Richard Posner

Describe your morning routine.

I don’t really have any routines. Well, if I’m at home or in the office I have a desk and a computer. And I write. I’ve never thought in terms of any particular routine. There are a lot of interruptions, emails and so on. Whenever I have free time, I write. Judicial opinions or academic stuff. I don’t have any quota of words. I understand full-time novelists, say, they will want to do a certain amount of words a day in order to finish a book. Often it’s the same type of day, the same writing instruments. I’m not at all like that. I have to give priority to my judicial work, so when I write an opinion or when I’m editing, I always do my judicial work first.

You have the distinction of being the most cited legal scholar of the 20th century. My colleague, AJ Jacobs’ father, is in the Guinness Book of World Records for having written the legal article with the most citations. How do you feel to be so…well, cited?

Ha! I didn’t know that about myself! Well, it just shows I’m compulsive, right? I’m a compulsive writer. That’s funny. I am compulsive. I don’t do much else. I don’t take vacations. My wife and I don’t go out often. Sometimes for dinner or the theater, but not often. So I work weekends, nights. I have lots of time and I write. I am fast, I cover a lot of ground.

Who is a hero of yours in the annals of law?

I greatly admire Oliver Wendell Holmes. And other great judges that I like a lot. Cardozo and Brandeis and Henry Friendly, John Marshall.

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