The Shining is a Shining movie. All rights reserved by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
If you work best with classical music while sitting at your west-facing desk with a paperweight- heavy Himalayan pink sea salt candle deionizing your air, it is wonderful that you have discovered that and cultivated an inspired atmosphere for your creativity. Good routines can be carried around. Good routines are flexible. sanctify your spaces. If you are able to create a workspace that makes you want to work there then you will enjoy the place to begin the hard work. Allow your ritual to adorn your routine.
How you decorate your space is called ritual. How you use your time is called a routine. Wherever you are, that’s where you are. Ritual can be beautiful, but you can’t be beholden to it. It has become superstition if you are.
If you can’t work without your lucky pen, your desk chair, and your favorite notebook, what do you do when you go away? Family obligations arise? Work conflicts? When your writing makes you successful, what happens when you need to travel for speaking engagements and book tours? That is the goal, isn’t it? How do you keep that routine in a hotel room? Are you talking about layovers? Do you think jet lag will affect your brain in different time zones?
It is not the ritual that makes the writer, but the routine. After twenty years of being a writer, I appreciate the difference between being a writer and not being a writer. What works for you? Stick with each iteration, each experiment should exhaust its possibilities before you abandon it like a diet that didn’t immediately drop you to your desired weight. Time to succeed for routines. There are almost as many productivity programs as there are people. Someone with no writing experience at the top of the NYT bestsellers list might not work for you.
I don’t believe he relied on inspiration alone. Roger Zelazny agreed to write two sentences six times a day. If he didn’t catch fire. I dismissed it as pointless and impossible for me. I read about him. He wrote a novel a year for more than three decades, in addition to novellas, anthology, novelettes, short stories, and series.
I stayed up until 5 in the morning to write an invective against the Girl Scouts and against the mandate of selling Girl Scout cookies for my Economics department newsletter. Melanie Rudd of the University of Houston said that the best way to achieve a goal is to focus less on the outcome and more on the process.
When my family went back to Germany, I brought my Ipad with me. I randomly wrote an appraisal of The Weeknd’s video for Earned It. Even though no one was paying me for my writing, I was reminded that paid writers would likely be using a flight to get it done. There was no excuse for not writing. It should be an inspiration to write about the adventure. I can’t find the article on my Ipad, but it was swallowed by my Ipad. I was pleased that my review of his video reflected the ethereal and sensual nonchalance of the aesthetic and something or other about his diaphanous voice.
I saw it through to completion after being inspired. I wanted to go to sleep even though I was exhausted. The computer was on fire with a clear and cohesive narrative after lightning hit the apartment. The editor of undergraduates liked it. Other student contributors started to write in a casual first-person narrative that showcased their knowledge of the economics concepts we were learning. I was very happy.
When you walk away from a house party, these moments of inspiration would have faded out like music. If I only wrote in inspired moments or ritualized spaces, notes wouldn’t become songs. How you use your time is called a routine. How you decorate your space is called ritual.
It is fleeting, unsustainable and unpredictable. You can’t rely on it since you don’t know when it will strike or how long it will last. You do not have to do anything. Consistency is important to me. Consistency is more important than inspiration in cultivating your zone.
It was a stroke of luck. I didn’t rely on radio station contests for my income when I was younger. I won a hundred dollars from the radio station when I was 13 years old. A hundred whole dollars! I bought a stereo system with two tape decks so I could record. If you were a middle-schooler in the early 90s, you know what a huge lifestyle change that was.
The Kiterunner’s author, a medical doctor and bestselling novelist, talked about how his hit started writing itself during his 4–6 am writing routine. He went to work and doctored himself every day. When inspiration graces you, celebrate it. It should be treated like luck. Don’t depend on it.
When I hit a wall, I often go back to quotes from best-selling authors. His routine became his focus.
Stephen King, who has written more words than most of us have ever said, “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” If I hadn’t been a journalist, I wouldn’t have been able to write a novel. You just have to do it. I am definitely not precious.
Don’t get so superstitious about how you create.