For the past thirty plus years I have developed the habit of waking up as early as 5 a.m. Sometimes I am up before my alarm rings. I have always been a light sleeper but lately three to four hours of sleep is a good night for me. It all started when I was too busy working and taking care of my children and the house.
See I am a dreamer, I always have been. And at the end of a very busy day at school and at home I often would feel frustrated and angry for not finding or making time for myself to read or write. So I would wake up one hour before everyone else and have my coffee in peace and read. And at night after I would put the kids to bed, I would sit at my desk to write until I would be too tired to stay awake.
I realize now that I work better under pressure. Since now that I have all the time, in fact too much free time, for myself I can’t seem to be able to produce much. Either I am lazy or I suffer from chronic procrastination, if there is such a thing. I keep postponing what I have to do. Here’s how Budd Schulberg described it:
“First, I clean my typewriter. Then I go through my shelves and return all borrowed books. Then I play with my three children. Then, if it’s warm, I go for a swim. Then I find some friends to have a drink with. By then, it’s time to clean the typewriter again.”
But then there were all those successful writers who had weird writing habits that worked for them.
The late Maya Angelou kept a hotel room where she wrote. She asked not to be disturbed and she always had a Bible and a bottle of sherry.
When George M. Cohan needed a script he bought a train ticket and spent the entire trip writing. He could dash off 140 pages between New York and Chicago.
John Cheever would put on his one suit and take the elevator to a windowless basement storage room in his New York apartment house. “I hung my suit on a hanger and would write until nightfall. Then I dressed and returned to our apartment. I wrote many of my stories in boxer shorts.” He told a reporter in an interview.
“I only write when I am inspired. And I see to it that I am inspired at 9 a.m. every morning.” wrote Peter R. de Vries
Isaac Asimov rose at 6 a.m. and wrote until 10 p.m. He wrote over 500 books during his career.
Philip Roth on the other hand, claims it can take as long as six months to produce what he considers an acceptable page.
Asked by a journalist during an interview, “Where’s the best place to write?” Dorothy Parker joked, “In your head.”
If it’s any consolation at least I do that. I write in my head.