Tidbits from a Copyblogger interview with Elizabeth Gilbert:
Before you begin to write, do you have any pre-game rituals or practices?
Clear off my schedule until I have a nice long block of empty time. Bow down. Ask for grace. Commit to the idea of collaborating with the book, not going to war against it. Cross fingers. Make a cup of tea. Begin.
How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Everything that needs to be done in my life has to be done before 11:00 am, or it won’t be done well, or may not even be done at all. I love the early hours because the world hasn’t tracked me down yet. My best mind is my mind at dawn, after a good night of sleep.
I usually wake up with the solution on the tip of my brain to the creative problem of yesterday, and then I go running to my desk to try to catch my intelligence before it drains out of my ears. By 2pm, I am useless for anything except simple manual labor.
Do you have any tricks for beating procrastination? Do you adhere to deadlines?
I abide by Goethe’s rule: “Never hurry, never rest.” I never go into crazy fugue states, but I don’t ever stop, either. I’m a plow mule. I’m very disciplined, and I have a great regard for deadlines — usually my own.
I was lucky enough to have had discipline instilled in me by my very organized and Calvinist mother, who taught us to work first and play later (and maybe not even play so much, actually).
She also taught us not to become perfectionists, which is where a lot of procrastination and time-wasting occurs. Nothing is less efficient than perfectionism. Her great adage, which I still adhere to, was:
Done is better than good.
I can tell you all kinds of specific things that are wrong with each of my books, but I’m not going to try fixing them, because then you fall down the wormhole, and the books are good enough already, and I want to move on to other things.
90% is truly good enough. There is not enough time in life to quest for perfection. Better to move forward. All this I learned from my mom. I was a lazy kid by nature, but my mother refused to allow me to become a lazy adult.
I think that loving one’s work is a marvelous trick for enjoying life. When people ask me if writing is hard or easy for me, I don’t even know how to answer that. Hard and easy don’t matter.
I don’t need writing to be easy; I just need it to be interesting.