Monday, August 09, 2010

Butt in Chair--How I Fight for It and Win

I didn't realize how good I had it when pursuing my Vermont College MFA. Back then, there was no need to fight for my butt in chair time. I wrote for hours at a time, often immersing myself so far into my story that I learned to set the alarm so I didn't forget to pick up my girls from school.

These days, I consider it a good day if I write two pages. Yep, you read it right. I do a happy dance after writing two pages. I learned the practice from my third semester VC advisor Jane Resh Thomas.

The day Jane recommended the concept, I remember thinking, "Two pages? That's all?" Now that VC is behind me, and life's "little" interruptions have crept into my writing time, I understand the wisdom of the practice.

1. Two pages a day is realistic and achievable. I can imagine sitting my butt in chair long enough to make it happen. I can envision getting up early enough in the morning to do it, or carving out writing time while waiting for E to finish her therapy. Expect a higher page count and the idea would overwhelm, making it much more difficult to find enough uninterrupted time to meet my quota.

2. Two pages is just far enough into my story to keep my characters close to the surface so that when I sit butt in chair for the day, they're ready to work and play. Stay away too long, and they're less cooperative and often crabby. Another incentive to write each day.

2. Two pages a day isn't gridlock. Or giving up. It's forward progress. And it's measurable. Think about it. Two pages times 30 days is 60 some pages in a month. Sixty pages times six months is a children's novel! My life is filled with things I can't control. My two pages a day quota is one area I can affect. Seeing forward progress is a huge incentive to schedule butt in chair time daily.

3. Two pages a day feeds my muse and muzzles the mugwump, making me a happier and more effective mom, wife, advocate, health care manager, cook, chauffeur, etc.

4. Two pages is the target, but it's not written in stone. If I write more that day, I celebrate. If I write less--or nothing at all--I don't beat myself up. It's part of the process.

The goal is to keep moving forward. As long as I keep an eye on the horizon and never stray far from my chair, I'm honoring my story and myself two pages a day.

No comments: