Cover image for The clockwork muse : a practical guide to writing theses, dissertations, and books
The clockwork muse : a practical guide to writing theses, dissertations, and books
Zerubavel, Eviatar.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
111 pages ; 22 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN145 .Z47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



For anyone who has blanched at the uphill prospect of finishing a long piece of writing, this book holds out something more practical than hope: it offers a plan. The Clockwork Muse is designed to help prospective authors develop a workable timetable for completing long and often formidable projects. The idea of dashing off a manuscript in a fit of manic inspiration may be romantic, but it is not particularly practical. Instead, Eviatar Zerubavel, a prolific and successful author, describes how to set up a writing schedule and regular work habits that will take most of the anxiety and procrastination out of long-term writing, and even make it enjoyable. The dreaded "writer's block" often turns out to be simply a need for a better grasp of the temporal organization of work. The Clockwork Muse rethinks the writing process in terms of time and organization. It offers writers a simple yet comprehensive framework that considers such variables as when to write, for how long, and how often, while keeping a sense of momentum throughout the entire project. It shows how to set priorities, balance ideals against constraints, and find the ideal time to write. For all those whose writing has languished, waiting for the "right moment," The Clockwork Muse announces that the moment has arrived.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Zerubavel (sociology, Rutgers), the author of seven books, shares his strategies on getting writing done, no matter how busy or how blocked the writer is. The answer is to make a writing schedule and then follow it, staying slightly flexible, writing outlines and drafts, and writing to deadlines. Written in a light, breezy style, this small book offers little new information. Large libraries may want a paper copy, but a better choice for dissertation writers is Joan Bolker's Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day (LJ 8/98).√ĄLisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1 The Clockwork Muse
2 The Writing Schedule
Setting Priorities
The Writing Session
A Time to Write
Ideals and Constraints
Quiet Times
Keeping Your Momentum
A-Time and B-Time
3 A Mountain with Stairs
Divide and Conquer
The Outline
Drafts and Revisions
4 The Project Timetable
Estimating Length
Pacing Yourself
5 The Mechanics of Progress
Getting Started
Moving Along
Storage and Retrieval
Road Maps and Benchmarks
Discipline and Flexibility