"While I've had long periods of time when I've written every day, it's nothing that I'm slavish about. In keeping with the theory that there are times to write and times to think and times to just live your life, I've gone for months without writing and never missed it. One December, my husband and I were having dinner with our friends Connie Heard and Edgar Meyer. I was complaining that I'd been travelling too much, giving too many talks, and that I wasn't getting any writing done. Edgar, who is a double bass player, was singing a similar tune. He'd been on the road constantly and he was nowhere near finishing all the compositions he had due. But then he told me a trick: He had put a sign-in sheet at the door of his studio, and when he went in to compose, he wrote down the time, and when he stopped composing he wrote down that time, too. He told me he had found that the more hours he spent composing, the more compositions he finished.
Time applied equalled work completed. I was gobsmacked, and if you think I'm kidding, I'm not. It's possible to let the thinking-about process become so complicated that the obvious answer gets lost. I made a vow on the spot that for the month of January, I would dedicate a minimum of one hour a day to my chosen profession. One hour a day for thirty-one days wasn't so much, and I usually did more. The result was a stretch of some of the best writing I'd done in a long time, and so I stuck with the plan past January and into the rest of the year. I'm sure it worked partly because I had the story in my head and I was ready to start writing, but it also worked because my life had gotten so complicated and I was in need of a simple set of rules."
From The Getaway Car by Ann Patchett.