Learning From Kurt Vonnegut.

I love this photo… He is not having any of your nonsense, people. None of it.

I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten. I do push ups and sit ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not.

We all know who Kurt Vonnegut is, right? Good, because I don’t have a lot of time today for padding out this post with extra research. Let me tell you, sharing a single internet source with three other adults is not easy.

So really, all I have to say is that this guy takes a regimented lifestyle to a whole new level. No room for flexibility anywhere, Kurt? So not me. But again, the hallmark is definitely to take the writing seriously. In Vonnegut’s case, the time allotment was only 3.5 hours per day, but he made sure they happened by writing before he even ate breakfast. That could definitely be workable for me, as my family knows nothing happens before I emerge from my bedroom. I’m not one of those rise-and-shine socialites in the early morning, but I’m sure I could write effectively in that time.

The other thing worth noting is that, again, he was careful to balance his sedentary work with physical activity. I’m working on it. I still don’t enjoy it, but I’m working on it.

On a more frivolous level, I love the tone of this. It’s actually an excerpt from a letter he wrote to his wife, which explains the charming personal tone, and the frank ending, which I absolutely adore. I know the feeling, Mr. Vonnegut. Every time I finish my Pilates routine, I feel as though I am getting a six pack and biceps, but maybe not.


This post is the fifth in a series based on this article by James Clear, featuring quotes and reflections on the routines of twelve famous authors.

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