Make No Apologies for How You Work

The other day, I was conducting an author visit at a middle school, and a sixth grader said, “I read about an author who gets up at 5:00 every morning to write. Is that what you do?”

“Honey,” I said, “I don’t do anything at 5:00 in the morning except sleep!”

I then explained to her how you were more likely to find me working on a new scene at midnight than at five a.m. And I told her what I firmly believe, that as artists we need to figure out what systems, methods, techniques, and time schedules work best for us, and then build our lives around those things.

I’ve gotten plenty of ridicule over my lifetime for being a night owl. I’ve been accused of being lazy because I’m a late riser and “spoiled” because I’ve set up a schedule that works best for me. This baffles me. If I go to bed at 1:00 a.m. and get up at 8:00, and you go to bed at 10:00 p.m. and get up at 5:00, we both get the same amount of sleep. So what difference does it make?

If one person needs all the latest technology to do his art well and another needs only the most modest tools, who is right? Neither, as long as they are doing what makes them feel most comfortable and efficient in their work.

A friend of mine was talking about his artistic son one day. “This boy,” he said, “sometimes he just jumps out of bed, heads straight to his computer and gets to work. He doesn’t even bother putting on pants.”

“Are pants necessary to the task he’s doing?” I asked.

My friend looked at me like I was crazy, but I’m not. As artists, we don’t have to conform to society’s rules if we are not hurting anyone. As long as we are not going bankrupt by buying more tools than we need or causing our family serious distress in any other way, we should never feel the need to apologize for how we work.

And if people want to make fun of us, let ‘em. If they want to call us “privileged” or “entitled” or “lazy” or “odd,” that’s their judgment and envy talking. We know how hard we work.

And we also know it’s pretty difficult to create with confidence if you are busy worrying about what other people think. So poke fun all you want. We’re not listening.

Scroll to top