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Blogmo Day 14: Daily fuel

December 14, 2008

One of my RSS feeds is the great Practicing Writing, and so I will hat tip them here when I talk about Daily Routines, a blog that catalogs writer’s daily habits to get themselves to work. While these things are great to read, it ends up being either a pipe dream of productivity (when I can get up at 6am every single day for a week, and not immediately go back to bed, we’ll talk) or depressing in how much time and effort is actual put into novels I still haven’t read.  It’s still good to see how differently successful people work.

A few of Daily Routine’s habits come from the excellent Paris Review interviews, let’s see if I have any that aren’t excerpted there (I have a few editions of the collected reviews from a family friend).

Frank O’Connor
“I’m always looking for the design of the story, not the treatment. I’ve got to see what these people did, first of all, and then I start thinking of whether it was nice August evening or spring evening. I have to wait for theme before I can do anything.”

Angus Wilson
“Do you work every day?”
“Goodness no. I did that when I was a civil servant and I don’t propose to do so now. But when I’m writing a book I do work every day.”
“To a schedule?”
“Not really. No. I usually work from eight to two, but if it’s going well I may go on to four. Only if I do, I’m extremely exhausted. In fact, when the book is going well the only thing that stops me is sheer exhaustion. I wouldn’t like to do what Elizabeth Bowen once told me she did – write something every day, whether I was working on a book or not.”

William Styron
“And what time of the day do you find best for working?”
“The afternoon. I like to stay up late at night and get drunk and sleep late. I wish I could break the habit but I can’t. The afternoon is the only time I have left and I try to use it to the best advantage, with a hangover.”

Robert Frost
“Well there’s more than one way to skin a cat. When I get going on something, I don’t want to just, you know… Very first one I wrote I was walking home from school and I began to make it – a March day – and I was making it all afternoon and making it so I was late at my grandmother’s for diner. I finished it, but it burned right up, just burned right up, you know. And what started that? What burned it? So many talk, I wonder how falsely, about what it costs them, what agony it is to write.”

Mary McCarthy
“Does it matter to you at all where you write?”
“Oh a nice peaceful place with some good light.”
“Do you work regularly, every morning, say?”
“Normally; right now I haven’t been. Normally I work from about nine to two, and sometimes much longer – if it’s going well, sometimes from nine to seven.”
“Typewriter, yes. This always has to get into a Paris Review interview.”

So, a typewriter is kind of like the Paris Review‘s version of Cristal on Cribs. These were published in 1963, so now I imagine there would be a question of “Moleskine or Macbook?”

Full disclosure; I am guilty of both. Now just to get a typewriter I will never use.

P.S. If anyone wants to see a (coffee and deadline driven) variation on my work habits, see this late night post about writing a paper in the early morning at my school library.

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