Strange Writing Questions: Answered
I write for a living. People find this more fascinating than it is.
As I’ve written about in the past, writing is hard. It’s also a lonely endeavor. One that forces you to be something of a hermit, obsessed with a specific topic for weeks or months (or even years, in my case) on end until you release the work into the world.
But still, people think it’s cool. For example, I recently had dinner who grilled me about writing and my process. I figured I’d share what we talked about.
Q: What do you eat/drink to keep yourself charged throughout a writing day?
A: Diet soda. Too much of it. It’s my vice. The combination of fiz and sweet and a low level of caffeine keeps my fingers hitting the keys. When I spent more than a month in the Arctic backcountry reporting my book, The Comfort Crisis, I missed three things: my wife, my dogs, and diet soda.
Q: How do you solve writer’s block?
A: Firemen don’t get “firefighter’s block.” Nurses don’t get “nurse’s block.” Somedays the words come easy. Other days they don’t. On the latter days I remind myself how lucky I am to be doing what I love and that most jobs don’t get to use the excuse of “(insert job) block” to shirk work. So I accept each day as it is and write regardless; I’d never get anything done if I was waiting for the world to be perfect.
Q: What’s your writing routine?
Mornings are my most creative period. My dogs usually wake me up around 5:00 am. I make one cup of good coffee and am in my office writing by 5:15. I stay there writing books uninterrupted until about 8. This means I don’t check email or do anything other than put words on the screen or do the research I need to put the words on the screen. My cellphone isn’t even in the room (in fact, I purposefully charge my cellphone in another room during this period so I can’t access it).
I exercise from 8 to 9 am. I think following deep intellectual and creative work with physical work is mentally freeing. It gives my brain time to go blah and just…