One of the interesting things about this December Challenge is that every day I’ve had a prompt to follow, and I’ve pretty religiously followed the rules. I’ve also been finding great blog topics on my own, which is something that I’ve struggled with in the past. Today is a free day and I feel as excited as a kid whose teacher announces to the class that school is letting out early. I can’t wait to see what Madi writes about on her free day!
A couple of days ago I was perusing through HuffPost Books and I found a really interesting article titled “The Daily Routines of Haruki Murakami, Freud, Jane Austen, and Other Great Minds Revealed.” The article includes excerpts from a book titled Daily Rituals: How Great Minds Make Time, Find Inspiration, and Get to Work.
I think this is true of most artists in general. We want to know about those who have made it. In the writing world, we call it The Writing Life, and it is this term we use to talk about a creative life in writing. Being a writer, or artist, or musician is very different from just holding a 9-5 job. It’s every day, all day commitment. I go to the store listening to conversations of those around me for inspiration; I walk or drive to see things and then ask myself how I would describe it if I were writing about it.
We, as writers, have these two really popular myths that we are fighting against. One is of the solitary writer in his sometimes basement, sometimes attic office with crumpled papers strewn about the floor. This writer is usually depicted with his hands in his hair frantically searching for the right words while Yorick provides dark inspiration from a corner of the desk. The other image is the even less appealing artist who is dependent on drugs or alcohol to induce creativity.
I hate both of these images, mainly because they aren’t accurate and because I don’t fit into either of these images. I would postulate that most writers don’t fit into these two categories. And seriously, the guy in his office is never a woman. Never.
I think, and after listening to Mike Mullin, author of the Ashfall series I’m certain, that the one constant for those successful creative people is that they work their asses off. Most of the time they have day jobs and husbands and children, and yet they still write; they still produce words or music or art. They put in the hours.
In high school and middle school, I played a lot of sports, but basketball was my favorite. Unfortunately, I didn’t hit a growth spurt until the summer before eighth grade. It was so frustrating to put in all those hours of practice (at school and on my own) only to ride pine during every game. But, my frustration never caused me to miss practice. I never quit and I was steadily getting better. I started on Varsity every year from eighth grade to my senior year and my junior and senior year I was the team captain. Those hours of work that didn’t produce much gain were very worth it.
I think this hard work mindset is true in every field, not just for athletes or writers. So here is my creative schedule:
Monday-Friday: Wake up at 4:55 and pour coffee into creative mug (the mug is one of my weird-isms and I drink out of the same cup everyday), write until 6. Go to work and be inspired by my pretty awesome learners. After school, work out then cook dinner with Nathan. Second job time or reading, or just hanging out with Nathan until bed.
Saturday-Sunday: Wake up by 6:30, get coffee in same creative mug, and write until I can’t anymore. Throughout the day if there are spare moments, I spend those writing as well.
One of the things that all of the writers in the Huff Post article shared is that they had a routine that they fought to keep. Whatever your creative pursuit may be, you have to put in the hours. They are often long and grueling and without fail they will produce crap that you can’t do anything with, but that is okay by me. All that practice in 5-8th grade paid off, and I have no doubt that this will pay off, too.
What are you spending your extra hours on? Or, what do you wish you were spending your extra hours doing? Well, tell me, then get to it!