Wednesday, September 19, 2012

7 Steps to Self-Discipline for Writers

    Anne Lamott said the best thing you can do to write a book is put your butt in the chair. Sounds easy, but what about all those distractions that seem to levitate us from those seats? Here are some ways to keep your butt in the chair without the use of Super Glue.
Cellphone1.    Turn off the phone. Aside from a call from your agent or editor, you really don’t need to talk to anyone during your “writing time.” That’s what “Leave a message” means. And while you're at it, turn off Facebook, Spider Solitaire, Pinterest, YouTube, and that Gangnam Style video...
Houseclean2.    Overlook the dust bunnies. As long as you haven’t been featured on that Hoarders show, your house is probably clean enough. Remove the stack of writers’ magazines from your chair, clear the cat off the computer, and get to work.
Tennis3.    Skip the tennis game. You have a choice—write or play tennis. If you play tennis, or do any other kind of distraction, what will you have to show at the end of the day? A sore rotator cuff. But writers have plenty to show, like hundreds and hundreds of words, all leading to a finished book. (And maybe a touch of carpal tunnel.)
Tv4.    Unplug the TV. I know you’re tempted to find out who’s on Jerry Springer today, thinking his bizarre guest may be grist for the mill. But how many times can you write about paternity tests? Give your characters some fresh drama—like a murder to solve.
Kids bus5.    Farm out the kids. If you’ve got young children and spend your time making cookies, playing with playdough, and combing out hair snarls, drop them off at a “play date” or get a babysitter for an hour or two each day. Surely you deserve a parenting break so you can write that children’s mystery.
Waiting6.    Spend “quality time” with your book when you can’t be in the chair. Think up character names while in line at the post office, figure out a plot point while you’re showering, and brainstorm some compelling titles while doing the downward dog.
Car woman7.    Set a quota. Promise yourself you won’t leave the chair until you’ve completed a set number of words, pages, or chapters. Then reward yourself for your productivity, with a carton of ice cream, a designer outfit, or a new car. You deserve it!

Now get to work...or something distracting you?

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