For the past two weeks, I’ve been flat out working towards an Aug. 1 deadline to finish my book proposal, a project that’s been hovering for months. The original deadline was June 1, but other projects came along and threw me off course, not to mention the endless temptations of warm summer days. The distractions kept coming and I thought, if I don’t buckle down and do this, this project will never get done.
It was Saturday, July 14. I emailed Hilary Graham, my good friend and author of Reunited, a fabulous young adult novel just published by Simon and Schuster. Hilary had graciously offered to review my proposal before I send it to the NYC literary agent and I wanted to know her availability. Turns out, she was leaving town in two weeks. I had to work fast if I wanted her input.
At first I thought, “It’s too much work in too short of time; I can’t pull this off.” Then I thought, “Buck up you big wimp and make it happen.” Like my fellow writers everywhere, I created a routine for myself and established guidelines — no phone, no email, no internet while in the studio and at least five hours of writing time. Sure enough, the goal is in sight.
Twyla Tharp writes about the important link between routine and creativity in her book, “The Creative Habit.” I leave you with her wise words:
Being creative is not a once-in-a-while sort of thing. Being creative is an everyday thing, a job with its own routines. That’s why writers, for example, like to establish a routine for themselves. The most productive ones get started early in the morning, when the phones aren’t ringing and their minds are rested and not yet polluted by other people’s words. They might set a goal — 1,500 words or stay at their desk until noon — but the real secret is that they do this every day. They do not waver. After a while it becomes a habit.
This is no different for any creative individual whether it’s a painter finding his way to the easel or a medical researcher returning to the laboratory. The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration (perhaps more). And it is available to everyone. If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is a result of good work habits. They are the nuts and bolts of dreaming.
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