I believe that books are written not only on-page, but also off-page. It’s doubtful that anyone who does drugs, goes to parties often, spends hours in front of the TV, watches more movies than he reads books, does what everyone else is doing and thinks what everyone else is thinking writes good fiction.
When I decided to become a writer I made some changes in my life. Habit makes change difficult, but I have observed that changing things gets easier when you stop doing whatever it is you are doing for at least a day or two and sit still and quiet and think about your life. A warning:
‘How can you come to know yourself? Never by thinking, always by doing. Try to do your duty, and you’ll know right away what you amount to.’ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The effects of those changes can be still seen today…
I don’t carry a mobile phone with me. I had to procure one while my grandmother was dying, for emergency calls, but now that she is dead I have tucked it away in a wardrobe.
I don’t watch TV. I don’t have one in my room.
I eat only when I am hungry. I don’t eat snacks or anything else in between dinners. I also prefer vegetables to meat.
I don’t go out in the city. I am quite happy with my quiet existence, but life in a shadowy attic is not sustainable. It works for a few years if you have the right temperament, but after that it’s bad for your health, and especially for your brain. Going out and meeting new people is important for a writer, especially if you’re looking for characters and ideas for stories.
For my part, I knew what I wanted to write before I learned English and withdrew myself from the world. Also, Oliver Colors’ biography has little to do with reality, and since I live in Romania and I have more English in my attic than outside it.
I don’t spend money on unnecessary items. I buy only food, clothes, and books. I can live on a few hundreds dollars a month. Actually, I try to live on less and less each month so I can spend fewer hours working and more writing and reading. Mind you, it’s Romania I live in, not the US. Things are cheaper here.
I don’t believe that the ‘lifestyle choices’ I’ve described are good for all writers. I’ve always been the shy and quiet and withdrawn type, so for me solitude is a kind of bliss, a silent one it’s true. I go to bed contented.
That said, when the time will come for the hatted boy to exchange his single bed for a double one, he will have to make some changes…
“Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” – Stephen King
Do you feel better when you are by yourself, or when you are with others?