Murakami on endurance and focus
I’m constantly drawn to writer’s talking about writing. I think it’s got something to do with the elusive ‘art-making’ process and that innate desire humans seem to have for finding the methodology of things (no matter how inapplicable it might be).
If there is some fibonacci sequence for writing, some part of it would likely be found gleaming in each drop of perspiration from great writers like Haruki Murakami. The 99 Percent recently highlighted Murakami’s thoughts on the subject of endurance and focus:
If you concentrate on writing three or four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work. What’s needed of the writer of fiction—at least one who hopes to write a novel—is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, or two years.
Murakami, the author of no less than 12 novels, wrote in his memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running on the links between learning to run long distance and the rigour required to write a novel:
Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. These are practical, physical lessons. How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate—and how much is too much?
You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. And gradually you’ll expand the limits of what you’re able to do. Almost imperceptibly you’ll make the bar rise. This involves the same process as jogging every day to strengthen your muscles and develop a runner’s physique.
I really like this idea of a writer’s physique. Putting the topic of talent aside for a moment, a physique is something you build over time, the result of ongoing training rituals that may not always be just about ‘being creative’.
Often when things aren’t working for me creatively, my writing grinds to a halt. And perhaps this is akin to an athlete stopping further training after one lost race. There is plenty else I could be doing that would fall into the bucket of ‘creative training’ (like reading, practicing discipline, doing writing exercises), rituals that would stand me in better stead for facing such challenges in the future.
While I go and create my own mental exercise list, would love to know any suggestions others might have for a building a creative workout regime. Drop me a comment below.
You can read the full article on Murakami over at the always useful 99 Percent blog.
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