"I'M SO USED TO PEOPLE SAYING, 'Now that you've made enough money with these best-sellers, isn't it time to write a really good book?' " notes Judith Krantz, 68. "Now would anyone have said to Irving Berlin, 'You could write like Mozart if you tried,' or to Willy Nelson, 'It's time you wrote an opera'? They don't understand that I'm writing the best I can, each time."
To do so, Krantz keeps to an uncompromising routine. She begins her writing day at 10 a.m., suited up in an old silk blouse, sweatpants and fuzzy "bunny slippers." Although the spacious office in her elegant Bel Air home offers an arbor view, Krantz writes facing a corner wall covered with needlework samplers. "Things women do with their hands," she says, "send off good vibes." Lunch is prepared at 12:30; Krantz nibbles on chicken salad while scribbling dialogue. Then it's back to the computer until 3:00, when she surrenders to "a sugar festival—whole wheat toast heaped with strawberry jam and dark tea with sugar—which gives me enough energy to work until 5:00."
To relieve a chronic backache, Krantz tops off her workday with either a deep muscle massage or a visit from her personal trainer. After a calorie-conscious dinner with her producer husband, Steve, 70, she settles in for an evening of sitcoms or books. "I never read fiction when I'm writing because it disturbs my own style," says Krantz. "And I don't try to dream about my work in progress," she notes. "You do need some time off."