What Happens When You Make Writing A Priority

I was particularly inspired by this recent profile of James Patterson in Vanity Fair. Patterson may not get an enormous amount of respect from the critics, but he certainly does from his publisher, his audience and his bankers. According article author Todd S. Purdum, Patterson brought in an astounding $90 million last year. No, that's not a typo. Ninety million dollars.

Think what you want of Patterson's focus on plotting over characters, his reliance on co-authors, his atelier-style approach to his work. To me the most important insight in Purdum's article is not what he writes or how he writes but how he thinks about his writing. It is not something he squeezes in after he's done the laundry or walked the dog, before he goes out to his lunch meeting. It is his absolute priority, every single day of the year. Christmas morning? Too bad, we'll open gifts after lunch. Got a plane to catch? Reschedule it for a different time. Kids have a parent-teacher conference. Plan it for the afternoon. Sure, you can argue he can afford to do that now, what with the household staff and professional help. I look at it a different way: He has household staff and professional help precisely because he made his writing his number one priority and organized his life around that priority. He had the discipline, and the faith in himself, to know that his craft deserved to be first. And that made almost everything else in his life possible.

A lesson for us all, methinks.