“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle
Franz Kafka, surely one of the most inventive writers of the 20th century, was actually a lawyer. He spent many of his working hours laboring in the vineyards of the Accident Insurance Institute (sounds Kafka-esque, doesn’t it?) How did he hold down a demanding day job and also pen his classic and chilling literary works?
Here’s how: He found a daily rhythm — or daily regimen — that worked for him and used it to his advantage. He worked from 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM, ate lunch, napped until 7:30, exercised, ate dinner with his family, then began writing at 11 PM for a few hours.
While Kafka’s offbeat writing habit may not work for you, it’s worth pondering the power that a daily writing strategy can offer. Kafka isn’t alone in his commitment to a schedule. Many successful writers find that consistent patterns and routines nourish creative achievement. Maya Angelou, for example, used to rent a local hotel room, arrive at 6:30 AM, write until 2 PM, then go home to edit. Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon writes from 10 PM to 3 AM five nights a week.
I’ve started committing once again to a solid block of writing time daily. I’ve had rough patches sticking to this regimen. But when I adhere to it consistently, I’ve reaped big benefits — and you may, too:
It builds “commitment muscle:” Just the act of committing to a consistent schedule is strengthening and highly motivating.
It signals readiness for action: Once you commit to a daily strategy and pursue it with intention, your muse pays attention (See Muse Management).
It fosters relaxation: Instead of feeling tense or worrying about not writing, having a daily writing session is freeing: You know you’ve got the time to write because you’ve made the time to write: It’s waiting for you. And a relaxed mind is a creative mind.
It generates desire and anticipation: As you begin to reap the creative benefits of a daily rhythm in your writing, you find yourself looking forward to the time you’ve blocked out and your unconscious mind does, too.
We all have many demands on our time, but let’s strengthen our “commitment muscle” — and write on!