Michael Chabon on Discipline

Michael Chabon says there are three keys to being a successful novelist:
  1. Talent
  2. Luck
  3. Discipline
Because he understands that talent and luck are completely out of his control, he focuses on discipline. He writes 1000 words a day, five days a week, no matter what.

Before the publication of his most recent book, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, he threw out about 600 pages from the final manuscript. And he cut over 350 pages from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (a book that ended up being 650).

Here's what he has to say about killing off pages he's spent countless hours crafting:

“That’s one of the things about discipline that saves you. If you know you’re going to write 1000 words every day it’s easier – it’s not easy – but it’s easier to contemplate cutting things…You’re going to be there again tomorrow. You’re going to check in, write your 1000 words, and check out again. I don’t get panicked about production, because that’s the minimum I can do.”

When you're disciplined, you're prolific. And when you're prolific, it doesn't matter how many times your ideas get killed. You're always going to have new ones.