Writing is more habit than inspiration, right? Not that inspiration is chopped liver. (Note: Unless you like chopped liver.) But anybody can get an idea. It’s the disciplined among us who will sit down at a laptop somewhere -- the kitchen table, for instance -- and put that idea on paper -- so to speak. Because you can’t just wait until, you know, ‘the mood’ strikes to write. ‘The mood’ isn’t like your period or anything -- it doesn’t come around regularly; it’s nothing you can depend on, that mood. So what of an evening when you have a little inspiration, and you have your discipline, what then? Then decisions must be made: What you should write, and what you will write, and what you’re in the mood to write. Crap. Now we’re all moody again. (Maybe we should quit listening to Hozier, he puts us in rather a Gotye frame of mind.) Maybe I need a fresh sheet of paper. And a re-read of that outline I wrote yesterday. And just the littlest bit more disciple.
In the meantime, let's finish with an excerpt from a 1986 Paris Review interview with our guy John Irving, always good value; we'll be mining this for awhile:
I don’t give myself time off or make myself work; I have no work routine. I am compulsive about writing, I need to do it the way I need sleep and exercise and food and sex; I can go without it for a while, but then I need it. A novel is such a long involvement; when I’m beginning a book, I can’t work more than two or three hours a day. I don’t know more than two or three hours a day about a new novel. Then there’s the middle of a book. I can work eight, nine, twelve hours then, seven days a week—if my children let me; they usually don’t. One luxury of making enough money to support myself as a writer is that I can afford to have those eight-, nine-, and twelve-hour days. I resented having to teach and coach, not because I disliked teaching or coaching or wrestling but because I had no time to write. Ask a doctor to be a doctor two hours a day. An eight-hour day at the typewriter is easy; and two hours of reading over material in the evening, too. That’s routine. Then when the time to finish the book comes, it’s back to those two- and three-hour days. Finishing, like beginning, is more careful work. I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft. I can write more quickly than I can read.Well this perks us up a bit