Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sit. Write.

There's no writing advice I've ever received that was better than this:

Sit your butt in a chair and do it.

I'd heard it before. Oh, had I HEARD those words before. But they never sank in. Faster than a Who on his way to get some Roast Beast, they went in one ear and out the other.


Because I didn't want to hear them.

I wanted it to be EASIER than that. I wanted to tap into the great MUSE and have the words magically flow from some mysterious and exciting PLACE OF INSPIRATION. I thought somehow that I would be the one to find it, like Ponce de Leon or Captain Jack Sparrow hunting down the Fountain of Youth.

Pfft. Yeah.

The only way to finish any piece of writing is to:

Sit. Write.

For a brief and glorious time at the University of Tennessee *GO VOLS!*, I had the privilege of knowing Elizabeth Gilbert. Uh, yup. THAT Elizabeth Gilbert. The one who's best friends with OPRAH. Auntie Liz (She told me to call her that. No, really.) mentioned once that she'd rather sort clothes, wash them, fold them, put them all away, and then take them all back out again and repeat the process than sit down and write. And she hates doing laundry as much as I do.

If only that great and mysterious PLACE OF INSPIRATION would come to us more often. If only it would knock us over the head with a sledgehammer and beat us into that chair, chain us down, and force our fingers to the keyboard to write, WRITE, WRITE!

It really would make our lives easier, wouldn't it?

Every now and then, however, we don't need to be dragged to that chair. We're struck with that sudden genius idea, the strong urge to take a flying leap at the keyboard and get to business.

Why does that moment so often come at the worst, most inconvenient times? Why does that spark happen in the middle of the grocery store check out lane when the Super Coupon Savings Superstar in front of you KNOWS she put that coupon for five cents off Funions right there in her file-o-fax somewhere. If only she could find it so you could check out, run to the car, speed home and catch that moment of grand INSPIRATION before it flits away.

Except when you get home, you've got to put the milk away so it doesn't spoil. And when you open the fridge to put the milk away, oh, what IS that SMELL? You have to clean out the fridge. But you need to WRITE. But it STINKS! After you throw the science experiment in the trash, you come back in and realize the milk is STILL sitting on the counter and then your MOM calls...

You see where I'm going with this?

Seriously, there IS no perfect time to tap into the PLACE OF INSPIRATION. The only time I ever found myself truly inspired was after getting out my laptop and staring at that terrifying blank page for awhile. After tentatively writing a bunch of seriously awful sentences. After focusing on my story long enough that the characters woke up and came alive inside my brain.

There are SO many reasons to sit down at your computer and open Twitter or Facebook or Hulu, or in my case all three, instead of bring forth that vast blank canvas and put words on it. Most of the times when I'm writing these days, I'd really rather be snuggled up on the couch, elbow deep in a bag of potato chips watching the latest episode of REVENGE

But that's not going to get my next book finished. Or the one after that.

The truth is, as frustrating as it can be sometimes, writing is a love/hate relationship. When it's hard, it's damn hard. But when that feeling hits, when we find our PLACE OF INSPIRATION, and the words flow, it really IS like magic. But the only way we're ever going to get to that place, is to...

Sit. Write.

What is your PLACE OF INSPIRATION? How do you get your butt in that chair and write? Once you start writing more often, do you find it easier to get back to your PLACE OF INSPIRATION the next time you sit down to write?

1 comment:

Meg said...

Oh girl!!! Girl, I needed this post. I've heard the advice before too and always just *la la la* it too - or I'll follow it for a week before I start Elizabeth Gilberting again. Laundry never looked so enticing.

Anyways I've been sitting here perusing your blog and getting enamored with your stories of preschool boogers to gold and I felt compelled to comment that this post needs to be in front of every writer out there - from published to wannabe, trynabe. Loved it!

Ok back to stalking the rest of your blog...