Andrew Weir is an American novelist whose debut novel in 2011, The Martian, was later adapted into a film of the same name directed by Ridley Scott in 2015. He received the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2016. He also worked as a computer programmer for much of his life.

Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?

I grew up mostly in Livermore, California. My childhood wasn’t great. I was bullied a lot, my parents got divorced and I had an utterly dysfunctional family dynamic with my father and step-mother. The only thing those experiences did for me made me insecure and neurotic.

What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?

I assumed that there was no point in seriously pursuing writing as a career. I wish I’d know that I really could make it in the fiction world. I didn’t break in until I was over 40 years old.

What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

“Follow your Dream” and “Never Give Up”. That’s bullshit advice for anyone. You shouldn’t go after what you want in life at all costs. Remember your passion doesn’t have to be your profession. You can hold down a normal job and write on the side, for instance. 

Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life. Partially I think it’s because I’m just wired that way – there’s a lot of anxiety and depression in my family. But also because my childhood was pretty miserable and I felt unwanted and unloved. I didn’t really come out of that feeling until I was in my thirties and bought my first house. That’s when I feel like I really made it into adulthood. I guess what really helped was realizing that everyone else is struggling, too. It’s not just me.

What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?

I have a good work ethic. I work hard and get things done, even when I don’t want to.

What is your morning routine? Please include the time you wake up.

I wake up around 7:30 am, walk the dog, then deal with work-related emails in the morning. I usually goof off with my hobbies until lunchtime. Then, after lunch, I buckle down and write. I try to get 1000 words per workday.

What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?

I can’t think of anything. I’m sorry. I just do my thing.

What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?

I have a list of things I’m “not allowed” to do until I’ve written my 1000 words on any given day. No TV, no video streaming, no woodworking (my hobby), etc. It helps motivate me.

What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov would probably be my number 1 influence. The idea of building an entire set around a single sci-fi concept was totally new to me.

Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?

“The only way out is through” – this is actually a quote from the video game “Doom”. It’s a strange place to get inspirational life advice, but I love the quote. Sometimes you’re in a bad situation or you have a lot of work ahead of you that you’d rather not do. But the only way to get it behind you is to get it done.