Daily Archives: September 16, 2011
Getting your butt in the chair. It’s the hardest part about being a writer. Well, not so much for the paying projects, but definitely for the ‘yet to be paying’ ones. The unpublished author faces many obstacles to getting her manuscript on the shelves—not the least of which is getting it written. Just ask Kathryn Stockett. It took her five years to write The Help. That fact alone should make me feel better about creeping along in my career.
Except it doesn’t.
I still want to get the book done yesterday, despite the many distractions of my day to day life—including the paying gigs.
At the RWA National Conference in New York this past summer, bestselling author Candace Havens presented a workshop promising to let authors in on the secret to getting a first draft down in no more than 14 days. Needless to say, I scrambled to the session as quickly as I could—me and over 300 hundred other wannabe authors. Apparently I wasn’t the only one needing a quick fix.
Now, here’s the thing about Candace Havens: She is a dynamo! A petite Texas spit-fire who has not only authored multiple books for Berkley Press and Harlequin Blaze, but she’s one of the country’s leading entertainment reporters, syndicated in over 600 newspapers. In her spare time, Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1600 writers. She does film reviews for a major Texas radio station, and is the Vice President of the Television Critics Association.
PHEW!! I was exhausted just listening to her bio. And you know what else I was? Embarrassed. Seriously, I must really be a slacker if I can’t get a book written when she does all that AND manages to write bestsellers. I’m pretty sure she is a mom, too, but I tuned that part out because then I’d have to stick a pencil in my eye. Had the room not been so crowded—I mentioned the 300 or so others, right?—I would have crawled off to the concierge lounge for the some vinotherapy; but alas, I was pinned in my corner of the room.
So what was Candace Havens’ secret to getting the book written? GET YOUR BUTT IN THE CHAIR! She presented a wonderful plan for getting a draft written in two weeks and I have blocked out the month of October to carry it out. What can I say? I’m an underachiever. I also gleaned a useful technique for keeping me in the chair for the edits and rewrites currently causing me grief: reward yourself. Yeah, that great parenting technique we all used when our kids were toddlers–bribery. Sweet! 🙂 This was going to be easy, all I had to do was decide on an incentive.
Candace warned in the session that M&M’s did NOT make a good reward. Yeah, girl, no visual aid necessary. I have my own thighs for that. Instead, the prize needs to be something worthwhile and exciting and possibly something you wouldn’t want to do without. Okay, my husband had some ideas here but as this a family site, we won’t go there.
It took me a few weeks, but I found one that’s working. What is it? It’s reading. I’ve made a pact with myself that if I don’t write or revise 5 pages a day, I can’t delve into a good book. Probably sounds lame to you, but for me, a voracious reader, it gets the job done. Before I can escape to Pennyroyal Green, Twilight Texas, Maiden Lane or Lucky Harbor, I have to get some words written. Instead of taking my Kindle to the barn each afternoon while my daughter rides, I heft my laptop or edit pages. If my goal is met, I can crawl between the sheets later that night and enjoy a few chapters before I start over again the next day.
Like I said, this probably won’t work for anyone else, but I get jealous of the stack of books beside the bed when I am immersed in writing a manuscript. This way, I can still get something done without giving up my guilty pleasure.
How about you? How do you get yourselves in the chair? What rewards or incentives to you “bribe” yourselves with?