Showing Up Like The Great Writers

If you want to be a writer, stay by the desk regularly. Promise yourself and make a habit. Woody Allen says that in life 80% of being successful is in showing up. This means rising early and aiming to write at least a 7-hundred-page novel.

What the writer Thomas McGuane did was staying in his cabinet for a certain period every single day. He sat at the desk. He explained that he doesn’t have to write, but he can do nothing else to distract himself.

Victor Hugo used to get up early in the morning and write 20 pages for just a few hours. He only interrupted his writing with sex–his favorite activity. His wife Adele Foucher was complaining and sharing that only during their first night he made love to her 9 times, and she realized that her marital life will not be easy. After the birth of their fifth child, she refused to have any more sex and let Hugo find his pleasure with other women. Which he did… even after his 80s. If he had writer’s block and couldn’t create–he locked himself in his study, naked, and thus indulged in writing.

Proust couldn’t write without being prostrated in his bed and covered with several woolen blankets. He declared he could not think poetically if he wasn’t covered with at least three blankets. He was also addicted to caffeine, drinking over 20 cups a day.

Balzac was possessed with his night-lamp. He thought it was his inspiration and always carried it around because he was afraid he couldn’t write without it.

Ernest K. Gann reports having chained himself to his desk so he could write and sell millions of good books.

Hemingway used to write standing at his typewriter. He finished writing and started drinking at 3 PM.

Jane Austen put her pen on the paper and stood for an hour scribbling notes that came to her mind, repeating the same phrases.

Shiller wrote late at night. He always kept on his bureau some rotten apples, because their smell motivated him.

Alexander Dumas separated his creations on different colored paper–fiction on blue paper, poetry on yellow paper, and articles on pink paper.

Charles Dickens needed absolute silence for his productivity.

Jack London wrote 1000 words a day.

William Golding 3000 words a day.

So if you will be a writer–invent your own peculiar rituals and start writing every single day. A writer who waits for the perfect conditions to write will die before leaving a single word on the paper.


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