Bum on the Chair

Aspiring writers are often advised  to develop discipline; they must actually put words on the page on a regular basis. This advice is expressed in various ways:

“Show up at the desk.”

“Write every day.”

“Put your bum on the chair.”

On the surface, this is sound advice, since writing for most people is not a nine to five job.

The more involved I become in the writing world, however, the less disciplined I seem to be. This could be a result of having an unpredictable schedule in other areas of my life, but more likely it’s due to my temperament. Sometimes I do force myself to “put my bum on the chair,” but rarely do I feel inspired in that situation. Yes I produce pages filled with words, but it is mostly dreck.

My best ideas arrive unexpectedly, sometimes during less than ideal circumstances. When lightening strikes, however, it’s like a gift, no matter where I am, or what I’m doing. For example, one day this last week I was the substitute teacher for a Grade 11 Math Class. I no longer have any facility with the subject, so I wandered around the room keeping the students on task. My mind also wandered, as it sometimes does in such a situation, this time to book #3. I have been making very slow progress with the manuscript, and nothing I had so far written had excited me. As the students pondered how to do their functions, or whatever they were, I pondered what I would include in the next scene of the story. It what then that “the idea” presented itself. It wasn’t just any old idea, it was the kind that not only moves the action forward in a specific scene, but also ties in to one of the major themes and makes structural links.

Suddenly in the middle of that Math Class I knew I had a book in the making, and I wasn’t even sitting down. Although I’d already written 7000 words, finally I was excited. I could hardly wait to get back to work. For the first time in ages, I wanted to put my bum on the chair.

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1 Comment

  1. Lucy Ammerman

     /  October 15, 2011

    Christi Krug said, “Daily writing is like keeping a water pump primed. If used regularly the water will flow freely upon demand.”


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