Butt in Chair Time

Years ago I attended a Science Fiction convention in Huntsville Alabama. It  was called ConStellation and it had only been around for a couple of years. One of the speakers was the editor of one of the monthly science fiction magazines, I forget which one. I forget his name. I forget a lot lately but that’s a topic for a different blog.

This editor’s talk was about what it was like to be an editor and what it took to be a writer. He used a particular phrase so often it almost became a mantra. He said to be a writer you’ve got to spend time with your butt in the chair writing. Not thinking about writing. Not reading something. Writing. Doing other things is perhaps necessary to inspire what you write but in order to be a writer you have to write and that takes “butt in chair” time.

I have taken that advise to heart. I have scheduled my butt in chair time and I defend it vigorously. My wife sometimes resents the fact that I have time to write but I don’t have time for some of the items on the honey-do list. To be fair, that is a fault not of my writing time but of my neglectful attitude toward the honey-do list. But that too is a topic for a different blog.

I have discovered the importance of having a distraction free place to write. I can’t write with the television on. I’m liable to watch whatever drivel is on instead of writing. I often put headphones on and listen to music to drown out the TV. That is only marginally better. I find I write best when I’m sitting in near silence.

Some times I sit in the silence, waiting for the idea that is going to come forth. I am close to despair. I have got to write my blog so that I can go to bed. And then it happens. The ideas flow out of my head and onto the page. Are they any good? I guess that’s for you to decide. All I can say is that they are coherent. They start at the beginning and proceed to tell a story. That’s really all I ask for.

So, if you want to master something, whether it is writing, or playing a musical instrument, or painting a picture, you’ve got to spend the time doing it. Do it until that spark of creativity flows out of you and becomes the art that you are driven to produce. It will happen when you least expect it. It is liable to startle you when it happens. That is the miracle of creativity. If you court it long enough, it will come.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.