Henry Miller, Jodi Picoult, Kurt Vonnegut: Notable writers on writing, discipline and their daily routine
The global pandemic that is upon has raised some serious questions around survival, existence, hope and inspiration as far as our day-to-day lives are concerned. Many among us are feeling challenged in terms of productivity, motivation, inspiration and hope. Even though we are trying our best everyday, in such difficult and testing times, it is natural to give up and breakdown at many levels figuring a routine for oneself. Many creatives across the world are processing the multi-layered changes that are taking place in so many ways and finding the will to maintain a sense of discipline which is tough but not impossible.
Here’s what famous writers had to say on the art of writing, their daily routines and what they do that gets them through on a tough day at work.
American writer Vonnegut in the year 1965 wrote a letter to his wife Jane about his daily routine, writing and what keeps him going which was published in the book, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters.
“I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten. I do pushups and sit ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not.”
Award-winning American writer, Picoult in an interview with the Daily Beast in 2017 spoke of creativity, writing and how she can write anywhere.
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands. If you have a limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
The writer and painter in the year 1932, listed his “Commandments”, some practices that marked his daily routine that was published as ‘Henry Miller on Writing’.
-Work on one thing at a time until finished.
-Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
-Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
-Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
-When you can’t create you can work.
-Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
-Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
-Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
-Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
-Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
-Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.