Sunday, 28 August 2011

Writing Habits - Tom Wolfe (author of The Right Stuff)

“I use a typewriter. My wife gave me a word processor two Christmases ago that still stares at me accusingly from a desk in my office. One day I am going to be compelled to learn how to use it. But for the time being, I use a typewriter. I set myself a quota—ten pages a day, triple-spaced, which means about eighteen hundred words. If I can finish that in three hours, then I’m through for the day. I just close up the lunch box and go home—that’s the way I think of it anyway. If it takes me twelve hours, that’s too bad, I’ve got to do it. To me, the idea “I’m going to work for six hours” is of no use. I can waste time as handily at the desk as I can window-shopping, which is one of my favorite diversions. So I try to be very methodical and force myself to stick to that schedule.”

“I always have a clock in front of me. Sometimes, if things are going badly, I will force myself to write a page in a half an hour. I find that can be done. I find that what I write when I force myself is generally just as good as what I write when I’m feeling inspired. It’s mainly a matter of forcing yourself to write. There’s a marvelous essay that Sinclair Lewis wrote on how to write. He said most writers don’t understand that the process begins by actually sitting down.”

The Paris Review, 1991

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