Getting the habit

This article about how novelists, painters, and filmmakers gear up for their work is interesting, but I think it’s chief value for neophyte writers is to get them thinking about methods and routines. I pottered about with fiction from the moment I understood what fiction was all about, but true productivity came when I established a routine and stayed with it. I had my sun-breaking-through-clouds moment while watching a 60 Minutes profile of P.D. James, who didn’t become a writer until her forties. James said she realized one day that nobody else cared about her creative drives, and if she was going to realize them she would have to get up an hour earlier every morning so she could work without being interrupted. That observation did it for me. I pissed away too many years thinking I would wait for inspiration. What I finally understood was that inspiration will find you more easily if you plant yourself in your workspace at a regular time every day. I don’t know if people who’ve read my stuff would consider it inspired. All I know is, I didn’t get anything done until I got tough with myself about establishing a routine. That’s the best lesson any writer — any artist — can learn.

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