Butt In Chair . . .

You know what you want to write. You know where the story goes. You’ve got a handle on the dialogue, and the ending is well within grasp. And yet, the thing just doesn’t get written. Why?

Well, if you’re me, it’s because you type a few words, or sentences, or paragraphs (if you’re really dedicated) and then get distracted. Or reward yourself with some internets, or a bit of tv. Or you have a blog that’s good for whiling away an hour or two because you’ve got to write that new blog post. In this day of distractions, there’s always something at your fingertips to take your mind off what you should be doing.

My problem is that I lack discipline. There are those days where everything seems to flow, and on those days I can sit and write for six or seven hours. Those days I mostly forget to eat, and only get up to go to the toilet when the need becomes so pressing that I can no longer ignore it. Then there are the days that, despite knowing where the story’s going, I can’t seem to settle and write. It’s just too hard. I’ll put something on the telly ‘for background’ and end up writing maybe 500 words after hours sitting in front of a tv show I wasn’t even really interested in. Worst (and kinda best) of all are the days where my brain is working furiously on Plot and Movement and Idea; and I can spend literally hours daydreaming the suddenly perfectly clear plot-line I want to outline. Character flaws become clear, tiny details and mistakes pop out at me, and I seem to know exactly how and where to build all the necessary little foreshadowing details. Of all my distractions, this is the one I love the most. Probably because it is, in a way, part of my process. It’s an allowable kind of daydreaming. It’s useful. It serves a purpose. But all the same, not much gets written on those days.

So how do you beat the malaise? How do you push past the disinclination and distraction and flat-out laziness? Really, it depends on who you are. When it comes right down to it, I’ve found that the best thing for me is to have a deadline. That’s why I announced the publication date of A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend before it was quite finished. It forces me to put my butt in the chair and just write. To sit there and type until it’s done. I’ve still got two short stories to write to finish up the collection, and a bit of formatting to do, but by and large, I’m on track.

Having a deadline is healthy for me. It may not be helpful to you, however. Every writer is different. But when it comes to writing, the one thing that is true for all of us is that distractions- well, distract. The most effective way to get your story written is to put your butt in the chair, and write. Turn off the tv. Avoid the internet. Write. Don’t worry if it’s rubbish. That’s how we learn and grow. Just write.

Write.

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