Weirdly enough, these pictures represent the same thing
By nature, I am a sprinter. Not an actual runner (running is for horses. And cheetahs), but a work sprinter. Consumed by the heat of inspirtation, I like to focus intently and exclusively on a project for a short period of time and walk away with a finished product.
The problem, of course, is that you can’t write a novel that way. At least, not usually. (Yes, yes, I know, Fahrenheit 451). Novels are simply too long to be achieved by sprinting. They’re marathons. So I’ve had to reinvent myself as a writer.
I use the BICHOK method advocated by my gurus and heroes (AKA the cast of the podcast Writing Excuses). I love that acronym. It makes me feel like I’m clucking. BICHOK, source of all marathoning success, stands for Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard.
My butt in my chair and my hands on my keyboard. Every day. (Well, six days a week. I take Sundays to recharge.)
And you know what? It works, as I just re-proved to myself in January, when I was getting back into regular writing after a long hiatus.
Oh not the first day. That day I cobbled together an outline for a novella, which took maybe twenty minutes. But I kept my butt in that chair for the rest of my allotted time, even though I couldn’t bring myself to write a single word.
The next day, I think I wrote a thousand words. The day after that it was fifteen hundred. And the day after that, I hit my ideal daily drafting stage goal of two thousand words. I started in the middle of January and by the end of the month I had written about 23,000 words, or a complete novella.
Writing every day is like working out every day. The more and the more regularly I do it, the more I’m able to do it. But it’s very, very important that I remember that I cannot go from marshmallow flab to Olympic athlete in a single day. If I’d re-started my writing thinking I was going to immediately be Steven King with 1500 words a day, or Anthony Trollope with 2000 words a day, or Brandon Sanderson with 4,000 words a day, I’d have quit after that first day when I didn’t draft a single word. (And let me add that working up to 2k/day in four days could happen only because of the years of writing I’d already put in. I was recovering muscle memory and gaining momentum, not starting from scratch.)
It doesn’t really matter if I fail to produce words on a particular day, as long as I sit in my chair with my hands on my keyboard. Because if I sit there again and again and again, the words will come.