Writing a book, full time, takes between two and ten years. The long poem, John Berryman said, takes between five and ten years…Flaubert wrote steadily, with only the usual appalling strains. For twenty-five years he finished a big book every five to seven years…On plenty of days the writer can write three or four pages, and on plenty of other days he concludes and must throw them away.

Octavio Paz cites the example of “Saint-Pol-Roux, who used to hang the inscription ‘The poet is working’ from his door while he slept.”