habits of highly effective writers


Haruki Murakami wakes each morning at 4:00 to write, and I’m starting to think that I should too.


Inspiration strikes at the most inconvenient times, and, more often than not, I find myself waking in the wee hours of the morning with ideas begging to be written. I scrawl them down, illegibly, in the dark, to be deciphered when the day breaks. But, the warmth of bed wins over the insistence of inspiration, and I stay snug under the covers while I lay awake running ideas over in my mind.

Haruki Murakami wakes at 4:00 to write, and continues until 10:00. That’s six hours of writing done by a time that many people would still be tarrying into the office, sipping on their first double-shot-soy-caramel-latte of the day. With my work hours, I could manage two hours of writing before my shift starts, which is two more hours of writing than I tend to do after work. (Murakami then goes on to train for ultra-marathons, but I don’t think that’s a practice that I will be incorporating into my daily schedule.)

As Murakami explains in his book, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, the three most important qualities for a novelist to possess are talent, focus and endurance. I like to hope that I have the first quality, however infant in its incarnation it may be, but the second two need a lot of work. My writing schedule is entirely erratic, squeezed into half-hour lunch breaks, notes idly written over afternoon beers or during dinner preparation, and sometimes, rare hours of productivity early in the mornings of my days off. Which is why my muse is keeping me awake at all hours of the night. It isn’t getting the attention that it deserves. Most writing advice that I’ve read suggests that writers need routine, a writing schedule, time set aside during the day for the sole purpose of writing without interruption. So, starting tomorrow, I am going to begin my day as Haruki Murakami does. In the cold, dark hours of a winter morning. Alone and undisturbed, in front of my laptop, or typewriter, or a spiral-bound notebook with pen in hand.

Do you keep a writing schedule? Do you write whenever the fancy takes you, or does having a sense of routine, fixed hours, suit you better? How best do you appease your nagging muse?