I think some of the most popular advice people get is “Don’t give up!” but sometimes that can be slightly misguided right? Certainly there are some circumstances where it’s better to walk away like if a situation or a person compromises your values. That’s not called giving up, that’s actually labeled “not giving in” and can be just as hard or harder than not giving up.
This is another principle that I’ve seen exemplified in some of the writers and some colleagues that I’ve really come to admire. It’s the practice of a belief that something is so valuable that anything that comes anywhere close to tarnishing or damaging it should not just be avoided, but eliminated. I read about some famous writing schedules that impressed me:
“When I am working on a book or a story I write every morning as soon after first light as possible. There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write. . . .
You write until you come to a place where you still have your juice and know what will happen next and you stop and try to live through until the next day when you hit it again. You have started at six in the morning, say, and may go on until noon or be through before that.” – Ernest Hemingway
“I keep a hotel room in my hometown and pay for it by the month.
I go around 6:30 in the morning. I have a bedroom, with a bed, a table, and a bath. I have Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible. Usually a deck of cards and some crossword puzzles. Something to occupy my little mind. I think my grandmother taught me that. -Maya Angelou
I tend to wake up very early. Too early. Four o’clock is standard. My morning begins with trying not to get up before the sun rises. But when I do, it’s because my head is too full of words, and I just need to get to my desk and start dumping them into a file. I always wake with sentences pouring into my head.
So getting to my desk every day feels like a long emergency. It’s a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can’t begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.
One clear trend in all of these is that they have a daily writing schedule, that is deliberate and fixed. They do not compromise it. The thought of breaking rank or going AWOL does not enter their mind. They know that the work that they want to do, the good and the great work they must do, cannot be up for negotiation. It must not be left to chance. It is proper and just and right, and for that, it must be respected and planned out.
I love that in each of these there is a certain place that they do their writing. It’s as if that place becomes sacred. Nothing else must be done here unless it is for the purpose of which this place was designed. That’s quite remarkable isn’t it? Creating a specific and deliberate space. I want that.
But it certainly isn’t easy to set out the time and the place to do this! As much as we are creatures of habit it really is difficult to create new ones, or change bad ones. That’s why I’m continually amazed when I read about people’s daily schedules, and how they’ve done it day after day and year after year.
I want to be a non-compromiser when it comes to the good and true things.