Michael Bliss on writing books


in Books and literature, Writing

Students who weren’t too overawed by the reputations and accomplishments of the college’s senior members could find them useful in more practical ways. At one High Table, Jane Freeman, who was just beginning to write her thesis and feeling daunted at the prospect of tackling what was essentially the writing of her first book, found herself sitting next to the historian Michael Bliss. Knowing that he had by then (1994–5) published eight full-length books, she thought, “Somebody who has written this much really must have a method. He must know how to do it.” So she asked him “whether he had a structure when he was writing a book, whether there was any particular way he went about it.” What he said in reply was “a revelation” to her. He said, “Well, when you’re writing professionally, which you have to do as an academic, it’s your job. And so I sit down a 9 o’clock and I finish at 5, and I write every day.” And he went on, “If you’re cramming as you do for an undergraduate course paper, you can’t maintain that over time. If you’re going to be writing every day for months and years, if you’re going to stay at it and do other books, you have to find a rhythm you can maintain.” That advice helped her, she said, “to have a paradigm shift between the cramming student who stays up half the night and tries to meet a deadline and someone who sees writing as her profession.”

Grant, Judith Skelton. A Meeting of Minds: The Massey College Story. University of Toronto Press, 2015. p. 406–7


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Alena Prazak January 7, 2022 at 12:01 pm

Many writers of literature follow the same approach and they sometimes take a decade to finish a novel.

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