“From time to time, as if heaven-sent to annoy, someone will ask me if I’m self-disciplined when it comes to my work. I usually look witheringly at them and snarl, ‘What do you think? I mean, how do you imagine anyone writes a quarter of a million words a year for publication?’ The hapless fools then mutter about inspiration or some such rot before turning tail and fleeing. Good riddance. The life of the professional writer – like that of any freelance, whether she be a plumber or a podiatrist – is predicated on willpower. Without it there simply wouldn’t be any remuneration, period.
“It could be because I spend all my working life deploying most of the supposedly novel strategies detailed in this book that I found it quite so annoying – or it could be because I waste rather more of my supposedly freer time struggling with the application of the rest. Either way, the cumulative effect of reading page after page of this pap sapped my willpower something fierce, and willpower – as Baumeister and his amanuensis Tierney never tire of telling us – is a strictly finite resource. Before I read Willpower I was an Odysseus who needed no lashing to the mast of life. Temptations? I laughed in their face. If you presented me with a stark naked and lascivious Kate Moss, her belly-button brimming over with Peruvian flake cocaine, I would simply have told her to rub in the talcum powder then cover up.”
Read the rest of Will Self’s review of Willpower at the Guardian here.