In a strange twist of either delusions of grandeur or masochism, writers have done their best to convince the world that writing is a wondrous pursuit filled with nothing but sudden bursts of inspiration and creativity after painful writer’s block.
You know how it goes in the movies and on TV: The morose writer will be walking down the street and a stranger will say to them, “Hey, jerkwad, what are you staring at?” and then the writer will get a funny little smile and walk a little faster and then pretty soon they’re skipping down the street toward their typewriter shouting, “Jerkwad! Jerkwad!! BY GOD I’VE GOT IT!!!!” and then there’s a montage of them frantically typing out their future bestseller.
I don’t know about your writing process, but that isn’t how mine works.
Sure, there are Eureka moments walking down the street or in the shower or while at the zoo (“Monkeys… MONKEYS!!!”), but if novelists wrote only when they were inspired it would take a hundred years to string together a novel. If you’re really going to finish one, you’re not only going to have to spend quite a lot of time writing and revising when you don’t feel like it, you’re going to have to spend quite a lot of time writing when you would rather be lighting your toes on fire.
The great Jane Yolen has a name for this: BIC. Butt. In. Chair. That is the writing process. Butt in chair.
You could also call it:
OMGTWISNTBICGOBINTW: “Oh my god the weather is so nice today but I can’t go outside because I need to write.”
IRWICGTTBGBIHTW: “I really wish I could go to that baseball game but I have to write.”
DMMIJGTSATBCSUITOS: “Don’t mind me, I’m just going to stare at this blank computer screen until I think of something.”
Just about everyone on the planet thinks about writing a novel at some point. Many of them really could and many of them could do it really well.
But there’s only one way to actually do it: BIC. Powering through when you want to stop, blocking out days on the calendar when there are more fun things you could be doing, staring at the pad or screen early mornings and late nights, and most of all, setting aside your doubts along the way.
And that’s of course even before you summon your willpower to try and jump through the hoops necessary to get the thing published.
If writing is always fun you may be doing it wrong.
The complete phrase as I've heard it (and it's rather a mantra of mine) is BIC, HOK, TAM: Butt In Chair, Hands On Keys, Typing Away Madly
Your letter combos are hilarious. As to masochism. Well…yes. But if you can be talked out of being a writer you shouldn't be a writer. Creating worlds where your characters live and breathe is an amazing feeling that can't be matched. All the masochism in the world is worth one moment of that sort of amazing.
One of my favorite quotes on being creative is: "It's tougher than Himalayan yak jerky in January. But, as any creative person will tell you, there are days when there's absolutely nothing sweeter than creating something from nothing." I don't think anyone has said it better than Richard Krzemien. Anyhow, from reading your blog I thought you would appreciate the quote as well.
Luc Reid explores this topic in-depth on an ongoing basis at https://www.willpowerengine.com/
just saying… 🙂
Betsy Ashton says
I agree that writing is hard work. And that even the days when all I produce is drivel and where the delete key is my friend, a bad day of writing is better than wishing I had written. I keep my butt on the ball (balance ball, no chair) and fingers on keyboard. Hey, when nothing is going smoothly, I can always bounce on the ball and pretend I'm riding a horse!
Hah!! this is so true! 😉
Jourdan Alexandra says
I must say, I'm so grateful that you and other agents and writers make posts like this. It just reminds me that I'm not alone. I've been editing my MS for the past six months and I've been wanting to jump off a cliff I hate it so much, but posts like this one remind me how much I truly love it and that, like you said, if writing is always fun then you may not be doing it right.
Okay, I can't help it. For a visual representation of the problem of willpower for writers, you MUST watch our "Inside the Writers' Studio" video called "Writing, Time Management, and You."
I promise you will relate.
Kathryn Magendie says
Can I have an A-Men brother!
Bryce Courtney calls it BUM GLUE.