Sunday, October 22, 2006
One can't be part of the writing community for long without coming across the concept of "butt in chair." This is writer speak for show up and do the work, whether you feel like it or not.
Contrary to popular myth, writers can't just wait for inspiration to hit before they get to work. For published authors, there's an editor-imposed deadline. Miss that deadline without a monumentally good reason and a black mark appears on your track record. Industry professionals have long memories for multiple marks of this type.
Unpubbed authors or those without contracts may not have an externally imposed deadline, but we better have an internal one or the book will never be finished. It's like saying you'll do something some day... Reaching The End is hard work, making self-motivation essential.
So why all this talk about getting the butt in the chair? Well, not all manuscripts just flow out of us in a sparkling river of words. Sometimes they have to be dragged out one grueling piece at a time. Or certain parts don't come easily, like the synopsis I'm currently hacking to pieces. (Instead of killing 3 pages I added 1.5. Ugh!)
Though it isn't always the case, most times this difficulty leads to avoidance, creating an uncomfortable cycle that keeps me away from writing. After a bit of reflection time, I simply have to force myself to work, one paragraph at a time, until it gets easier. And it does; each time I dread plopping my butt in the chair a little less.
I ran across a reference to this phenomenon recently as "bum glue". Charming, huh? But I have a feeling that if I could bottle and sell it, I'd make a fortune. Writers, especially newbies, are always looking for some magic formula to make this daunting process even a smidgen easier.
However, its just plain hard work. (If it wasn't, everyone would do it.) You either do it or you don't. For me, love of the process—no matter how hard it is at times—becomes the "bum glue" that brings me back to the chair even if I don't feel like it. Memories of the days where everything flows like magic are what keeps me there.
So how long does it usually take you to force yourself into the chair? Any motivational hints or stories you'd like to share? Any suggestions on how to bring this synopsis under control?!?!