In the Spring 1960 edition of The Paris Review, novelist/essayist/memoirist Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, discussed his writing process. Excerpts from the interview, conducted by Raymond Fraser and George Wickes, are included below. Read the entire interview at

INTERVIEWER: Would you tell us something first about the way you work?

ALDOUS HUXLEY: I work regularly. I always work in the mornings, and then again a little bit before dinner. I’m not one of those who work at night. I prefer to read at night. I usually work four or five hours a day. I keep at it as long as I can, until I feel myself going stale. Sometimes, when I bog down, I start reading—fiction or psychology or history, it doesn’t much matter what—not to borrow ideas or materials, but simply to get started again. Almost anything will do the trick.

INTERVIEWER: Do you do much rewriting?

HUXLEY: Generally, I write everything many times over. All my thoughts are second thoughts. And I correct each page a great deal, or rewrite it several times as I go along.

INTERVIEWER: Do you block out chapters or plan the overall structure when you start out on a novel?

HUXLEY: No, I work away a chapter at a time, finding my way as I go. I know very dimly when I start what’s going to happen. I just have a very general idea, and then the thing develops as I write. Sometimes—it’s happened to me more than once—I will write a great deal, then find it just doesn’t work, and have to throw the whole thing away. I like to have a chapter finished before I begin on the next one. But I’m never entirely certain what’s going to happen in the next chapter until I’ve worked it out. Things come to me in driblets, and when the driblets come I have to work hard to make them into something coherent.

INTERVIEWER: Is the process pleasant or painful? 

HUXLEY: Oh, it’s not painful, though it is hard work. Writing is a very absorbing occupation and sometimes exhausting. But I’ve always considered myself very lucky to be able to make a living at something I enjoy doing. So few people can.

INTERVIEWER: Do you ever use maps or charts or diagrams to guide you in your writing?

HUXLEY: No, I don’t use anything of that sort, though I do read up a good deal on my subject. Geography books can be a great help in keeping things straight. I had no trouble finding my way around the English part of Brave New World, but I had to do an enormous amount of reading up on New Mexico, because I’d never been there. I read all sorts of Smithsonian reports on the place and then did the best I could to imagine it…

INTERVIEWER: When you start out on a novel, what sort of a general idea do you have? How did you begin Brave New World, for example?

HUXLEY: Well, that started out as a parody of H. G. Wells’s Men Like Gods, but gradually it got out of hand and turned into something quite different from what I’d originally intended. As I became more and more interested in the subject, I wandered farther and farther from my original purpose.

Painting: Aldous Huxley by Brian Ashmore, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED