Raymond Chandler on Writing

Via Roy Edroso, I found this interesting bit of commentary on the art of writing from novelist Raymond Chandler:

What do I do with myself from day to day? I write when I can and I don’t write when I can’t; always in the morning or the early part of the day. . . . I’m always seeing little pieces by writers about how they don’t wait for inspiration; they just sit down at their little desks at eight, rain or shine, hangover and broken arm and all, and bang out their little stint. However blank their minds or dim their wits, no nonsense about inspiration for them. I offer them my admiration and take care to avoid their books. Me, I wait for inspiration, though I don’t necessarily call it by that name. . . . The important thing is that there should be a space of time, four hours a day at least, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything else but write. He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it, he shouldn’t try. . . . Two very simple rules, a. you don’t have to write. b. you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.

This is quite the interesting thesis. Though many of us don’t quite have the luxury of four hours a day, does it make sense to set time aside only for writing (whether you produce anything or not?) I wonder how many people operate this way.


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