Friedrich Schiller is one of the legends of German 18th-century literature.
He is an artist, poet, writer, philosopher, historian, and romantic playwriter remembered primarily after his “An die Freude” (Ode to Joy). It was set to music by Beethoven in his famous “Ninth Symphony,” according to British Library.
Freidrich Schiller’s legacy consists of numerous theoretical, philosophical, and artistic works, including well-known plays such as Don Carlos (1787), Wallenstein (1799), Maria Stuart (1800), and Wilhelm Tell (1804), to name a few.
His life was like a spark — bright and, unfortunately, short. Nevertheless, Friedrich Schiller remains among the members of Germany’s literature elite.
Back in my school days, I remember we’ve read, discussed, and marveled upon his play “The Maid of Orleans” together with the teacher who opened up the world of Schiller’s heritage to us.
As readers, we admire and praise famous works, but we rarely think of how much effort, time, and energy the author spent to create at least one piece.
Friedrich Schiller practiced one peculiar and bizarre habit that helped him establish a consistent writing routine. Perhaps, no one will want to repeat it nowadays. However, it shows how the power of habit can calm our busy brains and divert their energy to things that matter.
An unusual habit that inspired Friedrich Schiller to write
When I hear someone can produce 5,000 or even 10,000 words per day, I feel guilty.
I’ve been consistently writing for more than a year and can produce up to 2,000 words per day. My productivity heavily depends on a writing topic, my mood, and how intensive my day is.
As a content marketer and writer, I’ve researched numerous techniques to become a prolific writer. No one needs unsolicited pieces. Everyone wants to produce engaging content right away in a matter of time. So do I!
I’ve recently read a fantastic book, “The Business-Minded Creative,” by Diana Wink, a fiction author, blogger, and film director from Germany. She gives excellent tips on how to survive as a business-minded creator in the gig economy. Moreover, her book is full of insightful findings on what inspired famous authors to follow their journeys and keep writing despite anything.
Diana Wink reveals a lunacy writing habit that helped Friedrich Schiller produce his numerous creative works.
Friedrich Schiller used the odor of rotting peaches to get inspired. He let some peaches rot and used this smell strategically to inspire him to write.
When I read it, I was shocked.
Why would anyone deliberately let fruits rot? How come the smell of rotten fruits can help establish a consistent writing routine?
“There’s no magic in rotting peaches. Nothing that the odor in itself holds to inspire.” — Diana wrote in her book. “It functioned as a cue for Schiller’s brain.”
It turns out that a cue is an insignificant action with a huge impact.
If you manage to find a cue that will motivate you to do what you like despite laziness and tiredness, you hit the jackpot!
Every time I perform a set of actions, my brain remembers what I did, how I felt about it, and what I dreamed of performing that activity.
Reading a book or browsing social media seems more appealing, so my brain wants to switch to shallow work as soon as possible.
Once I motivate myself or promise a long-awaited reward, it gets much easier to establish a writing routine.
Here is how Charles Duhigg, American journalist and book author, explains habit formation:
“Every habit is made of three parts… a cue, a routine and a habit. Most people focus on the routine and behavior, but these cues and rewards are really the way you make something into a habit.”
European Journal of Social Psychology states you need 18 to 254 days to form a new habit.
It’s not enough to have a desire to adopt a new routine, though. It simply does not work this way.
One of my 2021 focus goals is to read at least 50 pages daily. I like reading, but I struggled to find time for this wellness practice for a long time.
Too busy in the morning and too tired in the evening. When to read?
My cue is a feeling of self-satisfaction from learning and the smell of brand new hard copy books on the shelves.
My routine is reading daily between 7 and 8 am. I’ve already read 28 books this year, and more to come.
The daily routine gradually turned into a habit I’m anxiously looking for every day.
What can serve as a creative cue
A glass of water or a cup of tea serves as a creative cue for Stephen King every morning:
“I have a glass of water or a cup of tea. There’s a certain time I sit down, from 8:00 to 8:30, somewhere within that half hour every morning.”
Don DeLillo, an American novelist, sees running as his creative cue:
“I work about four hours and then go running. This helps me shake off one world and enter another. Trees, birds, drizzle — it’s a nice kind of interlude. Then I work again, later afternoon, for two or three hours.”
I am a morning person who reads, writes and does deep work by noon. Perhaps, a feeling of hitting a “publish” button is my cue. I am a creator who wants to leave a significant footprint and shape my readers’ life. It’s an exciting mission that keeps me going no matter what.
Do you have a creative cue? Something that induces a flow state and boosts your creativity? It can be a cup of your favorite coffee in the morning, fresh flowers on the table, or a short feeling of freedom before the working day.
If you want to achieve something meaningful — you will. There is just one condition — don’t stop halfway. Remind yourself why you do it and how your action can inspire someone else to reach their goals.
E.B. White, the famous author of children books, once said:
“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
Writers’ biggest fear is a blank page. However, why is that? Why can’t content creators spend time writing something instead of staring at a white screen?
You can’t edit a blank page. Neither can you publish it!
Waiting for the right time to start is a poor strategy. No one ever succeeded by doing it. Perhaps, just in the dreams.
Friedrich Schiller smelled rotten peaches to kick start his writing routine. Irritating? Oh yes, but what an effective method! Perhaps, rotten peaches deserve credit for a tremendous impact on his work.
Time has changed, but Friedrich Schiller’s approach is still applicable nowadays.
Find your cue, get motivated, do your job consistently and diligently, become the next “Friedrich Schiller” in your niche. No other secrets to reveal. It’s that simple.
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About the Creator
Self-made marketer & content writer. Writing daily. Creating SEO-friendly content for 3 years.
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Let's get in touch: https://www.linkedin.com/in/victoria-kurichenko/