I’m a writer who runs. I run because it calms me. It creates a quiet, peaceful place from which I can think more clearly, feel more deeply, write with more energy. “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois,” Flaubert said, “so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
To write, I must feel in harmony with the world around me. I know this isn’t necessarily true for every writer; we each have our own process that works for us. The important thing is knowing what’s true for you. Where do you have to be inside yourself for your best writing to take place? What are the things you do that help you create what really matters to you? What are the things like running that are outside the writing process but absolutely necessary to it? What do you do before you write that allows you to more fully engage with the work?
Since I’ve evoked Flaubert, I might as well share with you some of the other things he said that have made a difference to me as a writer:
1. What is beautiful is moral, that is all there is to it.
2. One must not always think that feeling is everything. Art is nothing without form.
3. An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.
- Everything one invents is true, you may be perfectly sure of that. Poetry is as precise as geometry.
5. Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live.
6. Our ignorance of history causes us to slander our own times.
7. The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.
8. Writing is a dog’s life, but the only life worth living.
9. Success is a consequence and must not be a goal.
10. Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.
Read to live, Flaubert said. To that I’ll add: write to live; live to write. How can what we do on the page and off ever be separated?