How to Keep Writing: Bum in Chair
Often, what keeps us from writing is not a lack of things to say or stories to tell, or the skill to tell them, or even the courage. It is sometimes as easy as keeping your bum in your chair. To keep writing even if you have the irresistible urge to throw in a load of laundry, play with the cat, or re-organize your cupboards.
So this post are some fairly simple-minded but I have found, effective, ways to keep going when these other siren calls intrude.
Keep your bum in chair with mantras
This isn’t at all new age. I don’t know why it works, but even if nothing is coming to you and the urge to check your Twitter account sweeps over you, just keep typing. Doesn’t have to further the story. Doesn’t have even to make sense. But the act of keeping your fingers typing seems to eventually force your brain back in gear.
I do have some mantras which I type when I’m just trying to keep my fingers moving.
Don’t reach for it. Let it come if it’s going to
Sometimes, I’m straining for the next idea, the next scene, the next sentence. By writing this phrase, over and over, it reminds me to have faith in myself. That it will come if I am patient. Perhaps not today but it will come. Just let it come on its own timetable.
Process not product
I can inadvertently get into a production mode. This has to get done. I need to finish this story. I focus on the end product and forget that the magic of writing is in trusting the process. You let yourself be immersed by that special cloud that comes to you when writing and allow its flow to direct you. Rather than trying to push it to the finish line. Process not product.
Fierce and bold
I won’t bore you with the story but suffice it to say that I have a rubber duckie with a pirate scarf and a machete under his little wing which reminds me that I need to be fierce and bold in my writing. No matter how weak or dull my writing machete feels right now, I can swing it with ferocity and bravery.
So, not rocket science but it works for me. Here’s what I wrote one time when I was being tempted off the chair.
Just do it but don’t reach for it. Impossible state. Magic state? Don’t reach for it. Let it come if it’s going to. Process not product. Fierce and bold. Fierce and bold. Keep the fingers moving. Keep the fingers moving. Don’t reach for it. Just let it come. Don’t try to shape it as it comes. Let it come. Let it be what it’s going to be.
Start your engines please
At other times, an almost opposite approach works. Sometimes it might feel right to put yourself under some pressure.
Then, I literally write: Start your engines, please, gentlemen (sic). It’s 10:32. I will write until 11:02. No stopping. No on-line.
Doesn’t have to be half an hour. Can be five. But set a timer and stick with it. This is the time to stop communing with your inner angst and get something on the page.
I use both approaches, mantra and engines, choosing the one which fits my mood at the time. Doesn’t matter what you use as long as it keeps your bum in the chair.