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Getting To Be A Habit

Getting to Be a Habit

Other people’s working habits are always fascinating.

I can sit and read about them for hours.

Aristotle said:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is therefore not an act but a habit.”

He probably would have liked Frank Loesser’s unique working habits, who wrote the score of “Guys and Dolls” and “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.”

His wife said he would work all night. Then have a giant martini (gin) and go to bed.

Works for me.

Which brings me to Immanuel Kant, (you probably knew I was going there) who was starting to work when Loesser, a couple centuries later, was thinking about his martini.

Kant’s famous law: “Act as though the maxim from which you act were to become, through your will, a universal law.”

He was big on setting universal laws, yet in his own “universe,” the Five-foot-tall Prussian never ventured more than 60 miles from home and rarely broke a daily routine that began with a five A.M breakfast of weak tea and a pipe of tobacco.

Who says you can’t write about the world and not see it?

Reclusive poet Emily Dickinson related to Kant. She penned poetry early in the morning in the house she was born.

“I never had to go anywhere to find my paradise,” she said.

Routine is from Middle French, from “route” meaning a traveled way.

When something is traveled enough, our brain gets programmed. Habits are formed when we repeat certain actions.

Good or bad.

Truman Capote wrote horizontally with a cigarette and coffee nearby.

“I can’t think unless I’m lying down.”

Ben Franklin was another horizontal writer, who reportedly owned the first bathtub in America and immersed himself in hot water and thought at the same time.

There were a lot of stand-up writers.

Lewis Carroll and Thomas Wolfe wrote upright. As did Ernest Hemingway after injuring his back in a plane crash.

“I only write when I am inspired,” novelist Peter de Vries explained. “And I see to it that I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”

Muscle memory is an unconscious process where the muscles grow accustomed to certain types of movement.

Fred Astaire was famous for practicing his steps repeatedly until he didn’t have to think about them.

When asked by a young dancer how to polish his act, Astaire said to get the act as perfect as you can, then cut two minutes.

Valuable advice for doing practically everything. Probably too late for this post.

But never too late to thank you all for making the Eye part of your routine. Morning, evening, horizontally, vertically or otherwise.

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Dear Mr. Peterman,
    thanks very much for offering clothing that looks appealingly adventurous to a rather impecunious 70 year old prizewinning novelist who tries to spend at leastd some substantial part of every day outdoors.
    I have attached below a present for you, a couplet I wrote long ago — but you may feel free to pass it along to “actual friends” or for any other noncommercial purpose. I believe it does stick in the mind. Perhaps it is best when repeated while looking down at a sleeping child.

    Love is a beautiful dance that spins
    Into the world when the day begins

    — Christian Gehman

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