The aesthetics of my surroundings, the aesthetics of my computer, the aesthetics of what I wear, all of that really matters to me.

—Esmé Weijun Wang

Esmé Weijun Wang

 

Esmé Weijun Wang is a writer and essayist whose debut novel, “The Border of Paradise,” was named one of NPR’s best books of 2016. She runs an online business, esmewang.com, where she “provides resources for ambitious people living with limitations.” Esmé lives in San Francisco with her husband.

What time do you get up?
I get up, on average, at about 4:00 a.m.

What time do you go to sleep?
I go to bed very early at about 8:00 p.m.

Is your creative work your full-time job?
Yes.

Do you wait for inspiration before you begin or do you begin regardless of inspiration?
There are certain things about my work that do not allow for waiting for inspiration so I do dive in as much as possible however, I do enjoy going with my own flow from day to day which is also important given my health issues. So I do use little sparks of inspiration to get going.

How many hours a day, on average, do you do your creative work?
That’s an interesting question. I would have said, maybe six years ago 8-10 hours per day and if you had asked me even a couple of months ago I would have said one hour maximum just because of health problems. These days I’m happy if I can get in three hours a day.

At what point are you done for the day?
Usually my health takes a sharp turn at around 2 so that is about when I have to stop working.

Do you work primarily in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
Morning.

Do you have a daily routine for your creative work?
Yes for my day-to-day. No for creative work.

How does it start? How does it end?
I wake up and take my medications which is a long and involved process. And get going with morning prayers of gratitude and other rituals and routines. At night I take my nighttime medication and listen to an audio book as I’m preparing to sleep.

Do you have a dedicated work space?
Yes.

If yes, do you have anything in your work space to encourage creativity?
I have a lot of things like that in my office. I try to fill my office with as many of those things as possible. Right now something that I’m really loving is a letter board that I got and I put a saying or some words of inspiration on it every day. Something new generally. Today it says, “Give away what you need more of.”

How do you stay focused in a world of the internet, social media, interruptions, and other distractions?
I stay focused by the knowledge that my body only gives me a very small amount of energy with which to work. I know that if I squander that I’m not going to get anything done.

How do you maintain your creative energy? Breaks? Naps? Foods? Meditation?
I love to read. I think reading is really important if you want to be a writer. so sometimes to get myself going for a little kick I’ll read something from a work that I really admire.

What other activities do you engage in to encourage your creativity outside of your creative work time? Walks? Reading? Other arts? Entertainment? Socializing?
I love to watch movies. There is something about great cinema that triggers a different part of my brain and that is also helpful for my writing. I love visual arts. I actually was more known for my visual arts than my writing when I was growing up so I still really enjoy going to art museums, looking at art online.

The deeper stuff...

To listen to the conversation, %22How to be a Creative Warrior,%22 with Esmé on The Creativity Habit Podcast: