“A modern stoic,” he observed, “knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”Auden rose shortly after a.m., made himself coffee, and settled down to work quickly, perhaps after taking a first pass at the crossword.
His mind was sharpest from until a.m., and he rarely failed to take advantage of these hours.
So if the manuscript is, let’s say, 360 pages long, that’s basically two months work. And you write a sentence and you hate the sentence, and you check your email and you wonder if you had any talent after all? In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training.
Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity.1948 Pulitzer prize winner, WH Auden is widely regarded as one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets, gives us a sneak peek into his strategies for better habits, unleashing creative genius and his powerful daily routine…“Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition,” Auden wrote in 1958.
Unfinished and half-baked work, mindless wasteful time spent on the internet and never following through on what you set out to do everyday. Astruggle to do better but always, somehow still falling behind in our daily routine.
Maybe, you feel like you can do so much better, you know deep down inside that you can share so much more with the world. We watch those with natural talent and genius realize their potential and share great work with the world.
There is no one to disturb you and it is cool or cold and you come to your work and warm as you write.
You read what you have written and, as you always stop when you know what is going to happen next, you go on from there.
(He was dismissive of night owls: “Only the ‘Hitlers of the world’ work at night; no honest artist does.”) Auden usually resumed his work after lunch and continued into the late afternoon.
Cocktail hour began at sharp, with the poet mixing himself and any guests several strong vodka martinis.