The following transcript is an attenuated Q&A from my recent interview with Thom Chambers in the premier issue of Micropublisher magazine.
Thom Chambers: Do you currently have a daily writing routine? Are there set hours that you work, or a daily word count you look to reach?
JFM: I wake early. As soon as I’m awake, no matter the time, I get out of bed immediately and start my day: getting out of bed—that’s the secret.
My writing space looks like this. I write six or seven days a week, three to six hours a day, but I don’t have a routine. As a slow writer, and an even slower reader, I often write only 500 words on a good day, and I rewrite vigorously.
I go through numerous drafts of whatever I’m writing; several chapters in As a Decade Fades went through 20 or 30 drafts. I remember spending about ten hours on the first paragraph of that book, which isn’t a long one. At the end of the day, I’m happy if I’ve written a full page: one good page is enough.
If you were to give one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
Sit in the chair every day: even if you don’t write, plant yourself in the chair daily for a few hours and eventually the words will come. And ensure you eliminate distractions—no Internet, no TV, no radio, no phone. If you’re truly passionate about writing, you’ll do these things and write.
Following on from that, a lot of people draw inspiration from seeing behind the scenes of a lifestyle to which they aspire, so can you walk us through a typical day in the life of Joshua Fields Millburn?
For his website, Zen Habits, my friend Leo Babauta asked me to write an essay, A Day in the Life of a Minimalist, to provide a panoramic view of one of my typical days.
Now Available: How to Write Better: JFM’s Online Writing Class.