Quite a post today: one of my lovely friends asked me about my "Hemingway rules for a working day", and here they are, illustrated with what I did today.
I remember teaching masters of arts. The problem was not to get the students to be creative. The problem was not to get them to be clever. They were clever and creative all right. They were terrified. They were procrastinating. They couldn't get to work. I think being able to get to work makes all the difference.
What I know about how to get to work I learned ...from Hemingway. Yes, Ernst Hemingway. I know there is a lot of people who don't like him (especially the ones who didn't read him) but what he wrote about love, war and , yes, work I really like. He has a resonance I find quite universal, and I might be a bit right, considering I have very little common points with Mr Hemingway, except my love for the great outdoors, the fact that I lived in almost the same street in Paris, and a belief in true love.
In " A Moveable Feast", he gives hints about how he works and it inspired me. Working as a freelancer is not always easy. Getting inspired is easy, but getting inspired on a daily basis, not so much. So here's my Papa Rules, and why I stick to them :
1.Get to work.
Ernst woke up early and got to work. That's it. I just do the same, except for the "early " part, because I am a night bird, not an early one. I get up and I lit my computer and here I am, with my second cup of coffee, and since I have coffee and a computer, I get to work. I read my email and connect on Facebook when I wake up on my iPad, but when I get up, work. Concentrating on this one task is key. It's a rule that became such a habit that I am very uncomfortable on vacation.
2.To avoid artist's block, stop at a reasonable hour but not when you are finished with a task.
This is the main rule. If you have something waiting for you in the morning it's easier. You just get back where you were and continue and inspiration comes back easily. It's a flow.
3.When you stop, stop.
You don't need to rush to La Closerie des Lilas and have a drink. It's quite unhealthy actually. But when you stop, stop. Don't speak about what you are doing. Don't think about it. Sleep over it. Give yourself a chance to get back to work refreshed. Like that you won't turn a problem again and again in your head without finding a solution. The solution might come easier if you sleep over it. And since you are not speaking about it, people won't find you a bore.
I must admit I am quite good at the first two rules but not so much with the third one! Sometimes talking about a specific problem helps...Oh dang, I must be a bore sometimes!
If you want to know more about Hemingway's work habits, I just found an interview on the Paris review I quite liked : The art of Fiction nº21
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