The Habits of Highly Effective Writers
It's a cliche even to mention this, but at book signings the two cliche questions are: How do you write? and When do you write?
I couldn't care less whether a writer uses a computer, a quill or a typewriter so ancient that a special assistant must be hired in order to track down replacement parts, but I'm desperate to know how a writer fits such a solitary activity into the hurly-burly of ordinary life. At times, it seems that the only people who find the time to write are childless folks, with stay-at-home spouses, doting servants, and an unstoppable urge to wake up at 4:30 a.m. So I'm out of luck.
Not so, I discovered at Daily Routines, a blog that scans interviews, profiles, biographies, and the like to report how "interesting people organize their days." For instance, the blog reports (via a 1965 interview in the Paris Review) that Simone de Beauvoir didn't begin her writing day until 10 am. And she took afternoons off! And she vacationed for two or three months a year! Very civilized.
Will Self threatens to become a cliche himself by getting up early, using a manual typewriter and smoking a pipe, though he gets points for drinking "strange infusions" brewed on a stove on his desk.
And W.H. Auden, well, I guess the best that can be said for him was that he aspired to maximum efficiency. According to a piece that John Lanchester wrote in the New Yorker in 2003, Auden was "the finest writer to ever use speed systematically."
He took a pragmatic attitude toward amphetamines, regarding them as a "labor-saving device" in the "mental kitchen," with the important proviso that "these mechanisms are very crude, liable to injure the cook, and constantly breaking down."
Indeed. I think I might just work on waking up earlier.
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Posted by: lheffelkcrrcom | March 10, 2009 1:48 PM
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