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For Charles Bukowski, it sprang from the soul like a rocket. Every year on January seventh, I prepare my physical space. I just leave my dictionaries, and my first editions, and the research materials for the new one. He said, “Do it another ten years, you can be a writer.” But I looked around at the people on Wall Street who were ten years older than me, and I didn’t see anyone who could have left. […] I used to get the total immersion feeling by writing at midnight. Joy Williams found in it a gateway from the darkness to the light. From those seventeen steps on, I am in another world and I am another person. When it comes to nonfiction, it’s important to note the very significant difference between the two stages of the work. So it did appear to be financial suicide when I quit my job at Salomon Brothers — where I’d been working for a couple of years, and where I’d just gotten a bonus of 5,000, which they promised they’d double the following year—to take a ,000 book advance for a book that took a year and a half to write. I was twenty-seven years old, and they were throwing all this money at me, and it was going to be an easy career. It’s very hard to preserve the quality in a kid that makes him jump out of a high-paying job to go write a book. I noticed very quickly that writing was the only way for me to lose track of the time.According to author Joseph Epstein, 81% of Americans believe that they could write a book. If you’re one of those not yet published writers, we can help! Take your writing and turn it into a polished and professional manuscript.
Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. As Cheryl Strayed put it in her timelessly revisitable meditation on life, Ultimately, Shapiro seconds this sentiment by returning to the notion of presence and the art of looking as the centripetal force that summons the scattered fragments of our daily experience into our cumulative muse — a testament to the combinatorial nature of creativity, reassuring us that no bit of life is “useless” and reminding us of the vital importance of what Stephen King has termed the art of “creative sleep”.
And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby. Shapiro writes: If I dismiss the ordinary — waiting for the special, the extreme, the extraordinary to happen — I may just miss my life.
[…] Creativity arises from a constant churn of ideas, and one of the easiest ways to encourage that fertile froth is to keep your mind engaged with your project.
When you work regularly, inspiration strikes regularly. That’s why practices such as daily writing exercises or keeping a daily blog can be so helpful.
Anthony Trollope, the nineteenth-century writer who managed to be a prolific novelist while also revolutionizing the British postal system, observed, “A small daily task, if it be really daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” Over the long run, the unglamorous habit of frequency fosters both productivity and creativity.
Frequency, she argues, helps facilitate what Arthur Koestler has famously termed “bisociation” — the crucial ability to link the seemingly unlinkable, which is the defining characteristic of the creative mind.There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better. But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice.We seem to have a strange but all too human cultural fixation on the daily routines and daily rituals of famous creators, from Vonnegut to Burroughs to Darwin — as if a glimpse of their day-to-day would somehow magically infuse ours with equal potency, or replicating it would allow us to replicate their genius in turn.And though much of this is mere cultural voyeurism, there is something to be said for the value of a well-engineered daily routine to anchor the creative process.When writer's block hits, taking a moment to read some of the best books on creative writing can get writers back on track to creativity.Whether writing action, writing for television, or writing fiction, Below are some of the best creative writing books available to get writers thinking differently, writing outside the comfort zone, and exploring new writing styles.Prolific novelist Isabel Allende shares in Kurt Vonnegut’s insistence on rooting storytelling in personal experience and writes: I need to tell a story. Each story is a seed inside of me that starts to grow and grow, like a tumor, and I have to deal with it sooner or later. But I don’t find myself thinking, “I can’t write about that because it won’t sell.” It’s such a pain in the ass to write a book, I can’t imagine writing one if I’m not interested in the subject. And disappointed — because I have a sort of idea that isn’t really an idea. If she doesn’t show up invited, eventually she just shows up. Emotionally, it puts you in the place that everybody dreads. You can’t give in to your natural impulse to run away from situations and people you don’t know. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me. There’s no hole inside me to fill or anything like that, but once I started doing it, I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else for a living.Those are the best moments, when I’ve got the whale on the line, when I see exactly what it is I’ve got to do. It never goes quite like you think, but that moment is a touchstone, a place to come back to.It gives you a kind of compass to guide you through the story. Sometimes you don’t understand the misery it will lead to, but it’s always been right to feel it. Sample more of this indispensable compendium here, here, here, and here.