Sit Your Ass In A Chair and Write

Since participating in April’s Camp NANOWRIMO I’ve learned a lot about writing.  Not just the mechanics of writing and my personal style and process.  I’ve figured out how I write (I’m an intuitive writer who can’t follow an outline.  I let my story and characters lead me to an extent.)  I also want to write in the style and manner of the Dirty Realists (I want to write about real everyday people with real every day issues.  Not the people you normally read about in high literature.)  As pretentious sounding as those ideas are, they still are very important to have in your mind as you develop as a writer, but they are not the most important things I’ve learned.

The most important thing that I’ve learned is to be a writer you have to write every day.  It seems simple, but it is in fact the most important thing to learn.  Each day you have to sit down with pen and paper, at a typewriter, or in front of a computer and put words down in a manner that makes some logical sense.

If you are reading this, which would shock me, you might be saying to yourself, “This guy is an idiot.  It is obvious you have to write to be a writer.”  That is true, but this is where this gets into more what I’ve learned about myself and not just what I’ve learned about writing.

I’ve never been to a 12-step recovery program meeting, but I have read a lot about the 12-steps.  There are two things that I take away from the program as important.  One is to me mindful of what you are doing at all times.  You have to be conscious of your decisions every minute of every day or you could slip back into your old destructive habits.  If you make this mindfulness part of your life over time it becomes a habit.  You don’t have to remind yourself to stop and think before you do something.  I have also gleaned this from my reading of Buddhist philosophy.

Number two in the things I’ve gathered from studying 12-step programs and Buddhism is to concentrate on the now.  Yesterday is past and tomorrow is not guaranteed.  You can only effect about what is happening right now today.  For me (and this goes back to my inability to follow an outline) I cannot write to a deadline very well.  Not that I do not use deadlines and still meet them, but I can abstract them into meaninglessness.  A better way to put it is that I can see a deadline as this amorphous thing that is out there and not concentrate on the writing to meet it until it is almost too late.

Instead, the way I’ve begun to think about deadlines is to keep the date out there, but break it down into days.  What do I have to complete today in order to be finished on time?  I think about the daily grind and not the big plan.  That to me was the great thing about NANOWRIMO.  I had my word goal, but I broke it down into words per day.

I got up, sat my ass in a chair and typed until I hit my daily goal.  Every day for a month I thought and typed and typed and thought until I had my 50,000 words.  I decided every day that this was I was going to write 1600-1700 words.

That is why I love writing.  It is thing that allows me to learn about myself more than anything else in the world.  It is my one thing.  Everyone has their one thing.  The thing that allows them to be the most real self they can.  This is starting to sound like self-helpy claptrap so I’ll end here.


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