Madeleine Dore interviewed me for her site Extraordinary Routines:
With his daily life currently in flux while on a two month tour for his latest book, Keep Going, writer and artist Austin Kleon has been thinking about how to create a portable version of his routine.
“I think routine is so important, especially when you’re getting started creatively, but for me right now, I almost need checkboxes and rituals more than I need routine.”
Currently, the daily checkboxes include writing in his diary, publishing a blog post, taking a walk, and reading a book.
Such a sequence has been influenced by the ‘the two Davids’ – Henry David Thoreau and David Sedaris, who essentially share the same approach to the writing process. That is, spending a large majority of their day walking. “Thoreau took these insanely long four to eight hour walks and then he would come back and write about them. Sedaris will wake up in the morning and will write in his diary for a couple of hours about the day before. Then he walks and picks up trash on the street for seven or eight hours a day.”
This repeatable process of collecting ideas, recording them in a diary, and then turning findings into public lectures and books is something Austin has duplicated in his own way. “I always keep a pocket notebook on me, and then I diary in the morning, and then create a blog post, and those blog posts will become talks, which then become books. You don’t have to worry about what to write about, you just write every day and things begin to develop.”
Whether in the form of checkboxes or a routine, this process makes the morning hours crucial to his creativity. “The most important thing for me to do is to write my diary and to write a blog post. If I have done that, then the day in some ways is a success.”
Read the rest of our interview here.
Part of what I discovered, particularly about being a novelist, is writing a novel works best if you can do the same day over and over again. The closer you can come to Groundhog Day, you just repeat that day. You set up a day that works for yourself.
Want to be an artist? Watch Groundhog Day.