In an archived 1997 interview with Francine Prose, Lydia Davis discusses her longstanding interest in Samuel Beckett and the writing of Break it Down. Here’s an excerpt:
The earliest [stories in Break It Down] were written about ten or twelve years before they were published. They were written when I was in France after college. I was having trouble writing a traditional narrative story. There was one long story that I worked on endlessly. Looking back at the notebooks, I realize it took me over two years to finish it, trying another version and another version. In the meantime, I started doing these very short stories to break myself out of the rut of not writing or resisting writing. I told myself: You have to write two tiny stories every day. It didnâ€™t matter how silly they were, I just had to finish two one-paragraph stories.