I have kids [so] my routine has to fit in around being a dad. But that’s okay — in real life you can’t wait around for the Muse to show up, you have to look at the clock, think “I have 45 minutes before I have to be at the school gates”, and work out a scene or polish a piece of dialogue, etc. Oddly enough the time constraint can focus you and bring out the best in you. More generally, the things you think are stopping you writing — being ill, or having to do a dull part-time job, or looking after a relative — are things that can feed into your work in the future. Utility is largely a matter of perception.
In a Reddit AMA about his new book, novelist David Mitchell reflects on the role of daily routine and work ethic in writing, echoing Isabel Allende’s memorable words: “Show up, show up, show up, and after a while the muse shows up, too.”
Anthony Trollope put it in even more unambiguous terms a century and a half earlier in his advice on how to be a successful writer:
My belief of book writing is much the same as my belief as to shoemaking. The man who will work the hardest at it, and will work with the most honest purpose, will work the best.
During the last ten years, I have treated and cured all kinds of serious acute diseases without resorting to allopathic drugs. In a very extensive practice, I have not in all these years lost a single case of appendicitis (and not one of them was operated upon), of typhoid fever, diphtheria, smallpox, scarlet fever, etc., and only one case of cerebro-spinal meningitis and of lobar pneumonia. These facts may be verified from the records of the Health Department of the City of Chicago.
A book is always worth losing sleep for.
Not everything is supposed to become something beautiful and long-lasting. Sometimes people come into your life to show you what is right and what is wrong, to show you who you can be, to teach you to love yourself, to make you feel better for a little while, or to just be someone to walk with at night and spill your life to. Not everyone is going to stay forever, and we still have to keep on going and thank them for what they’ve given us.