“Writing equals ass in chair.”—Stephen King, On Writing
Pretty straightforward and simple advice, no? Then why is it so freaking hard to do? I’ll admit I probably spend more time procrastinating over writing than I do actual writing.
Everyone says it gets easier the more you write. I’m finding that NOT to be the case. I’m in the process of writing my third novel. Each time I sit down to write, it’s like I’m learning English for the first time: awkward sentence construction, abundance of clichés and spelling errors.
Some believe you should get all your ideas out on the page, without any self-editing—a verbal diarrhea of sorts. The problem with that method for me is when I look back on the words and see crap, any self-esteem or future inspiration I may hope to have stagnates—constipation, if you will.
So I tend to think more before I write. Problems arise when I don’t know what to write; I don’t know where my story is going or what my characters are going to do. Instead of trusting in the organic process of writing and allowing ideas to flow from me, I procrastinate instead. Here’s how my day goes:
Fire up the laptop; read the news and check emails. Read other writers’ blogs, peruse various forums, threads, loops, and comment when necessary. It is often necessary.
Start stressing because I haven’t begun to write yet.
Google “Why wives won’t have sex with their husbands,” or “Why do men cheat.” Read gazillions of never-ending sob stories. Feel grateful that I’m single.
Check Facebook. Resist the desire to stick a fork in my eye after being forced to read all the insipid inspirational quotes and cartoons that people post, just to get to one piece of news I actually care to know.
Continue to stress because I have no clue what I’m going to write that day.
Check email again.
Think about opening my WIP document to stare at the screen. I do not go through with it.
Do a half-assed work-out, in the hope that divine inspiration will hit me due to increased oxygen reaching my brain.
Shower and stress while shampooing my hair, because the day is already half over and I still haven’t written a goddamn word.
While picking up son from school, I finally envision how the next scene in my novel should play out. Of course, now interruptions and noise levels are at maximum level, what with a hundred kids running in and out of my house, the diva Chihuahua barking at every single noise she hears, and my son demanding to eat or drink something every thirty seconds.
I’m fired up though, because I have an IDEA, so I rush to my computer. As I’m in the process of getting that idea down, I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment (kind of like when I don’t feel like exercising, but I do anyway, because I know if I don’t I’ll feel like a loser all day).
If my son is occupied for a bit of time, and he doesn’t need an extraordinary amount of help with his homework, I can manage to get a few pages of writing done, thereby increasing the word count of my stubborn WIP.
When all is said and done I wonder, Why in the hell did I not get my ass in the chair sooner?
If I got my ass in the chair at the same time each and every day, instead of doing all that other mindless crap, I may have a shot at an actual writing career. Perhaps not as prolific a career as Nora Roberts, who churns out five (FIVE?!) books a year, but maybe, just maybe I could earn enough to support a daily white chocolate mocha habit.