Foolproof process.

Many people are asking: how do you do it? How do you write novel(s) and this award-winning weblog while maintaining a full-time job and friendships and other activities?

Well, I say, leaning back knowledgeably in my chair, it’s all about discipline. For example, it’s very important that before I finish this sentence, I open several new tabs to check the news. The news is terrible right now, so it will definitely upset and distract me, which is important for my process. In general, stopping mid-sentence or even mid-word a good deal to change tasks is highly recomm 

And by the way, don’t think that I don’t actually practice what I preach. Look: in the last two minutes, I opened thirteen new tabs in my browser, and had a momentary blackout where I had no idea where I was or what I had been doing before. The system works, people.

What time of day is best, you ask? The simple answer is, whenever you have at least 30 minutes when you can arrange not to be disturbed. Consider first thing in the morning, before the house wakes up, when it might go something like this: teeter zombielike from bed. Scroll your way through the stages of grief about being awake. Pour a cup of water. Tiptoe back into the bedroom to find some pants (this is important) and feel slightly smug that the first thing you touched was a pair of jeans. Jeans. Look at you, putting on jeans first thing in the morning on a quarantine day. No elastic waistband at all. Literally aristocratic. Pull on a ragged sweatshirt and abandon any hope of finding a bra without waking the sleeper. Take a mug downstairs. Realize that the building stopped providing coffee for public health reasons. Come back upstairs. Tiptoe more. Free the computer from beneath the pile of cables and books and—is that my chapstick? I’ve been looking everywhere for

Sit down with your computer or other writing implement. Where to sit? Well, you want to be comfortable, but not so comfortable that it feels like leisure. But also not so uncomfortable that you will search for any reason to get up.

This is important: do not get up. 

Remember that you left your cup of water over on the table. Get up to get it. 

Yes, morning is unique in this way: here you are, refreshed of brain and free from distractions. Everything else can wait. Plus, this practice boosts your creativity for the rest of the day!

Oh, they woke up. Time to make coffee and open the windo

Perhaps morning doesn’t work for you. Perhaps you’re more creative, or more able to find time for yourself, late at night, or on your lunch hour, or in little five-minute bursts while you take slightly (but not remarkably) long bathroom breaks. It’s all equal. 

Much more important than the time of day is that you strike while the iron is hot. Whenever your ideas are flowing, whenever any tiny little glimmering part of you thinks it might be fun right now to get some words down, do it

Um, I’m pretty sure I can name all fifty states in under two minutes. This quiz is clearly

Well, it’s been a half hour and I need to get to work. I was about to address the next item on this list: “set realistic goals and make sure you meet them,” to be followed by “don’t procrastinate,” but I guess those will both have to wait. 

Stay tuned for increasingly obscure laptop-sitting positions and some lying on the floor. 


And, with thanks to my mom, a good word to end the day:

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.

Thomas Merton

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