Outlander author Diana Gabaldon details her unusual writing routine


Foreign Author Diana Gabaldon has been writing her love series about time travel for over 30 years. And over the course of her career, she has developed a unique writing routine. From his lack of planning to his non-linear style, Gabaldon has his own special method for writing bestselling novels.

Diana Gabaldon | Michael Kovac/Getty Images for STARZ

Outlander author Diana Gabaldon knew she was meant to be a novelist

Gabaldon began writing the first Foreign novel in the late 1980s when she was a professor at Arizona State University. After years of writing software reviews and technical articles for computer publications, Gabaldon says she started writing Foreign to “practice” because she knew she was supposed to be a novelist.

“I started writing Foreign for training. I knew I was supposed to be a novelist, but I didn’t know how, and decided the way to learn was to write a novel. So, Foreign was my practice book,” Gabaldon said, per Collider.

“I was never going to show it to anyone, so it didn’t matter what I did with it. It didn’t have to have a genre, so I used whatever I like. And I’ve been reading ever since I’m 3. I like a lot of things and I’ve used them all.

Diana Gabaldon has an unusual writing routine

Gabaldon is currently writing the 10th and final book of her Foreign series. Part of his writing process involves going back and re-reading the previous novel because “there are passages where I encounter an emotional thread that I had dropped in the last book”.

“So I’m going to go back and read it and pick it up again, so it will go into the new book with its original power,” Gabaldon explained. She also revealed that her unique writing routine did not include linear writing.

“I don’t write in a straight line and I don’t plan stories in advance. I actually don’t really know what’s going to happen in a book,” she said.

Gabaldon references real historical events in his works of fiction, which requires a ton of research on his part. She says that before starting a novel, she will read several “overview” books about the time period she is writing about and the significant events that will be relevant.

“Doing any type of research is like grabbing the end of a long piece of wire and pulling – you don’t know what the other end is attached to, and you can find yourself in convoluted tangles – but you can be sure there’s something in there.”, Gabaldon writes on his blog.

The ‘Outlander’ author likes to write in the middle of the night

Regarding Gabaldon’s writing schedule, she says that when she started the Foreign novels, she had two full-time jobs and three children under the age of six. It taught him to work in the middle of the night, and it’s something Gabaldon still does.

“So usually I tuck my husband into bed around 9:00 a.m. and then the dogs and I lay down on the couch for a bit, and I fall asleep for an hour or two. And then I get up and the dogs get a bones,” Gabaldon explained.

“I get a Diet Coke. We resume work until 4:00 in the morning. So it’s main time. I can write at other times of the day, it’s just that people leave me alone.

Foreign seasons 1-5 are available on Netflix and season 6 is playing now on Starz.

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