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.