Fostering Flow Tip #17. Become a “master of perfect indiscipline” and stay in bed. By Siddhartha Mukherjee.

“I sat in the room every evening staring at the wall, writing nothing. Three weeks went by, and not a single worthwhile paragraph oozed out. I moved myself to the living room couch, and spent the day staring into the garden. Nothing.

“The dining room table, with the books spread out around me. Nothing.

“I went to sleep one evening, having produced another day of nothing. I woke up at about three in the morning, lying in bed, with my pillow propped up, and wrote four pages.

“The trick to my writing, it turned out, was doing so exclusively in bed. The minute I even dared to discipline myself and write at the desk, I produced mounds of nonsense. Yet, sitting in bed, I wrote easily, effortlessly, fluidly.

“I became the master of perfect indiscipline. If I set myself fixed hours, or forced myself to write a certain number of words, I produced complete junk.

“I once set myself a deadline: half a chapter a week, 20 minutes a day. The thought froze me instantly, like literary botox.

“I returned to my non-schedule: sleeping, writing 20 minutes, and then back to sleep. Breakfast in bed, with juice congealing on the sill: pages and pages began to pour out again.

From The Guardian First Book Awards

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