John Grisham wrote his first novel in the late 80’s while working full-time as a lawyer with a couple of kids at home. To find time, Grisham woke up at 5 am every day and wrote one page of what would become the bestselling novel, A Time To Kill.
By the time his second novel, The Firm, came out, he was able to stop practicing law and become a “full-time” writer. Only, he never changed his original working hours.
40 novels later and 300 million copies sold, it’s still the same, consistent regiment of one page per day that’s resulted in an astounding body of work.
“Write a page a day,” he advises. “That’s about 200 words, or a 1,000 words a week. Do that for two years and you’ll have a novel that’s long enough.”
It’s romantic to think that one day we’ll take the month off to write our book, train for that marathon, or finally put together that business plan. We dream of blocking out heroic blocks of uninterrupted time, away from distraction and obligation. But that’s rarely how life, or creativity, works.
Large, prolific bodies of work don’t come from locking ourselves in a cave for a year. It comes from chipping away, over and over, little by little, every day. It’s by stealing small, consistent blocks of time each day that we create long-term, sustainable output.
To live a creative life, you don’t need to quit your job or exile yourself to a deserted island to work. All you need is a few hours a day, or a week, and show up for yourself.
Don’t be a hero. Do what little you can, when you can, over and over. It’s that simple.