The following transcript is an attenuated Q&A from my recent nine-page interview with Thom Chambers in the premier issue of The Micropublisher online 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 like to wake early, before the rest of the world. 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 twelve hours a day, but I don’t have a routine. Many people might not realize this, but I’m an incredibly slow writer and an even slower reader. I often write 500 words on a good day, and I rewrite vigorously.
I go through many, many drafts of things. A few of the stories in Falling While Sitting Down probably went through 20 to 30 drafts. I remember spending about 30 hours on the first paragraph of that book, which isn’t even a very long paragraph. At the end of the day, I’m happy if I have a full page written. One good page is enough.
If you were to give one piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?
The best advice I can give is to sit in the chair every day. Even if you don’t write, plant your butt in the chair daily for a couple hours, eventually the words will show up. And make sure you don’t have any distractions in that chair—no internet, no television, no radio, no phone. If you’re truly passionate about writing, you’ll do it.
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?
My friend Leo asked me to write an essay about my typical day for his website. It’s called A Day in the Life of a Minimalist and it gives a panoramic view of one of my typical days. It’s one of my favorite pieces of non-fiction.
Now Available: How to Write Better: Joshua Fields Millburn’s Online Writing Class (limited to 20 people). Click the link if you’re interested in more details.