Susan Miller writes — a lot. The astrologer, author, and founder of AstrologyZone turns out between 40,000 and 60,000 words a month for her must-read, hotly discussed horoscopes. It takes seven hours alone to write each of the 12 zodiac signs — not including the summary at the end that just may, if you are one of her devout followers, affect how you perceive the next 30 days. “Posting AstrologyZone is like giving birth — a hot, sweaty, intense, and exhausting process each month, involving all of us on the team,” says Miller, whose interest in how the planets affect our moods, habits, and emotions began when she was a teenager. A childhood illness left her unable to attend high school with her peers, so she was homeschooled before entering NYU at 16 to study business. Along the way, a different sort of education involving astrology, theology, and philosophy was taking place under the tutelage of her mother, who said she must study for 12 years before even attempting to read someone else’s chart. Now Miller’s horoscopes are some of the most popular in the world (only 43 percent of her readers live in America, with the rest fanning across the U.K., Canada, India, Brazil, and Turkey).
All along, Miller’s trusted her instincts. “When I began, everyone told me, never write long! That flies in the face of Internet wisdom! No one will ever read long!” she says. “Now, after 17 years on the Internet, I have proven people will read long horoscopes, provided the horoscopes are accurate and engaging and resonate in people’s lives.” Her array of activities is dizzying: Miller writes for magazines including Elle in the U.S. and Vogue Japan, chats online at The Washington Post (her next one is Sept. 11), publishes an extensive range of books, and is eyeing network television as her next hurdle. Oh, and she also recently made time to do a few monologues at the Upright Citizens Brigade in the presence of Amy Poehler and write an 8,000-word piece on flowers and astrology for Wilder Quarterly, a gardening magazine.
So, do you think all this productivity is heaven-sent? Think again. Miller says that she’s just plain excited by her work, and in the unusual circumstance that she’s stuck on an assignment, she remembers the phrase “a change is as good as a rest” and switches from one task to another. It’s enough to inspire even the busiest worker to kick up her pace. Here, Miller reveals more about her process.
“Friends and family know they cannot talk to me, see me, or ask me questions at the end of the month, from the dates spanning, say, September 22 to 30. I don’t travel, make appointments, or have lunch with my editors or friends at the end of the month. For nine days, I am working around-the-clock under a great deal of pressure. Most days I fall asleep at 3 a.m., but I have to get up at 7 to get ready to write. I don’t need a lot of sleep and never use an alarm. I pop out of bed like bread out of a toaster, peppy, and never need coffee or any other stimulant to get myself going. I was that way as a child and so was my father. Energy is the best natural resource to inherit!”
No Stone Left Unturned
“I learned to be very careful and extremely clear in all my communications. It is critical to do careful research, because when words are published, you instantly realize that those words will be indelible, living on the Internet forever. I am very detailed and comprehensive in all that I do, almost to a fault — I become obsessed! I concentrate very well, so nothing distracts me! I am an all or nothing person! The way I work and negotiate contracts (working side by side with my lawyer), the way I file my taxes — all aspects of my life are careful and thoroughly tended to down to the tiniest detail.”
“One of the most creative uses of astrology I have been involved in is to aid Hollywood screenwriters in shaping characters for a screenplay. By using astrology, I can advise the screenwriter on how to advance the actions of the protagonist (or any other characters in the story) in a creative, complex way. You can ascertain that the character’s choices and actions have integrity by working with astrological archetypes — not just of the Sun sign but all eight planets and the moon in a fictional natal chart. This allows me to give a unique and individual texture to the character’s personality, so the character is never flat, predictable, or boring. Character development is fascinating work, and I would love to do more of it.”
“All my hard work pays off when I see the readers so happy at the start of each month to read my report. I go directly to Twitter to see what each reader is saying and to find out if anyone has a question. I want to be the servant to my readers — that gives me such pleasure. Then, after having done so much work for days, I practically fall on the bed with my clothes on. I am allowed to sleep, peacefully, because I have given the readers what they enjoy — that is my celebration.”
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Photographed at the Think Tank at the Paramount Hotel
Hair and makeup by Sylvester Castellano