I hate reading about the daily schedules of other writers. Nothing makes me feel like a useless sack of wet shit than discovering that the people I sometimes attempt to emulate managed to work harder, live healthier, and be more organized than I have ever been on any single day of my entire life. The other day, I read a short paragraph on legendary writer Haruki Murakami’s writing technique:
When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation. The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.
–the Paris Review, 2004
So, broken down, Murakami’s day looks like this:
04:00: Wake up.
04:01 – 10:00: Work on brilliant prose.
10:01: Run 10 kilometers to local pool.
11:00: Swim 1500 meters.
12:00 – 21:00: Read books (Kafka,) listen to music (The Beatles,) and sleep.
To read about a day like that is to be filled with despair. I have never once been that productive in a single day, and while I try to fill every waking second of my life with work, the problem I run into is that I at some point have to stop and live my goddamn life and feed myself. Then, at the end of the day, after I’ve stayed up till 4 am, as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, the only thought going through my head is, “Murakami would be getting up right now, and he’d be working for six hours, you’re nothing like Murakami, because you suck.”
Broken down, my writing days look like this:
07:00: Alarm goes off. Alarm is labeled, “get up and write.”
07:02: Hit snooze.
07:10 – 09:00: Hit snooze every 8 minutes till I eventually just turn my phone off.
09:00 – 13:00: Sleep.
13:01 – 14:00: Drag carcass out of bed, make coffee, remark at weather, and remark at the time of day that I have risen.
14:01 – 14:08: Have a cigarette outside and contemplate the brilliant prose that I could write. Think about the first line of all of my next major works, picture endless adulation, picture future marriages to various stunning celebrities, and picture speech I make at National Book Award presentation.
14:10 – 17:30: Stare at blank word document, scour Internet for bullshit, listen to vinyl, and stare at unedited manuscripts.
17:30 – 18:00: Cobble together one bullshit sentence.
18:00 – 19:00: Go for a walk. Think about the first line of all of my next major works, picture endless adulation, picture future marriages to various stunning celebrities, and picture speech I make at Pulitzer Prize presentation.
19:00 – 21:00: Return home. Delete one bullshit sentence.
21:00 – 04:00: Do fuck all.
Now, obviously that is not every day, as I do occasionally manage to write, edit, and finish the things I’m working on. Above is just how I feel about every day that I don’t do that. To read about the writing habits of famous authors, you would think that they don’t have days like that, especially when they state that their daily routine is like the one that Murakami lists above.
But they must have days like mine, or days like today:
10:20: Try to think of ending to piece about Murakami making me feel like shit. Come to conclusion that blog posts don’t need decent endings; feel good about having dodged that bullet.