A Day’s Work

To celebrate the paperback release of Imperfect Birds, Caroline Leavitt recently reposted on her blog an interview with the novel’s author, Anne Lamott. This part of the interview was particularly motivating:

“Well, novels as you know are a lot harder than stories or essays–it takes close to 3 years, and you never quite know what you’re doing. I really try to commit to my characters, and capturing each one’s voice and truth, instead of committing to a finished novel. It can be a nightmare for a lot of the process, because you’re trying to keep so many plates spinning in the air. So I just [try] to get a day’s work done every day. I let myself write incredibly shitty drafts. I ask one or two cherished writer-friends for feedback. I read novels, to see how other people handle tough stories of being human, and in families, and community; how we survive unsurvivable loss, how we grow, how we age, how we heal, how we keep our senses of humor. And I write everything over, and over, and over; and rely DEEPLY on great editing.” Read More

To strive to get a day’s work done every day. Or a day’s writing. Even a day’s writing badly. A day’s laughing. A day’s listening. A day’s noticing. A day’s living. That’s really all we can and should ask of ourselves, not only as writers, but as people. What we tend to forget is that, in time, those days, sunrise after sunrise, add up to a life.

I needed the reminder today not to get ahead of myself.

I can’t write a novel in a day, but I can do a day’s work of novel writing.

5 thoughts on “A Day’s Work

  1. “I needed the reminder today not to get ahead of myself. I can’t write a novel in a day, but I can do a day’s work of novel writing.” This gave me pause because I don’t think I can do a day’s work of novel writing today — it’s a muddled-mind morning and perhaps the best I can do is some work of writing and for today, that will have to suffice. My day’s work may only be 30 mins. today, but if that’s what I can do, I need to make peace w/that. Thanks for the great post!

    • Pam, thanks so much for writing this, because part of what I was thinking but didn’t express well is that, on some days, a day’s work might be “some work” or even “a little work,” and the more often I’m okay with that, the better things go not only today, but tomorrow. We are definitely on the same wavelength. 🙂

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