Ashley Franklin

Butt in Chair (BIC) & Why it Vexes Me So

“STOP TELLING ME TO SIT DOWN!” is what I internally rage scream whenever I see this bit of writerly advice. Don’t get me wrong. I get it. Of course you need to get your butt in gear in order to actually write.

But, follow me with this, what if with the way my life is set up, those butt-in-chair moments are few and far between? Does that mean I’m not a serious writer? Does that make me a writer of a lesser caliber?

The way my anxiety is set up, I find BIC unnerving. If the words aren’t manifesting on the page (or in my brain for that matter), I may freewrite, doodle, wrestle with other works in progress, or let my mind wander for a bit. If nothing of great magnitude is happening, you best believe my butt is getting up.

Actually sitting my butt in a chair to get some writing done is a luxury I have maybe a handful of times a month. For this reason, I value it immensely. However, it’s just not something that I can regularly do. And before you roll your eyes at me, I do know that I’m being SUPER literal. You do have to put the time in. There’s no getting around that. However, I feel like BIC makes making time to write seem a lot easier than what it is.

My writing time is more WIM—writing in the moment. This consists of making voice notes on my phone, drafting in Google Docs on whichever device is closest, scribbling on scraps of paper, and later assembling everything when I have time (usually when my kids have FINALLY fallen asleep).

At the end of the day, no matter how it gets done, all I hope is that whatever time I have put into writing has made me feel one step closer to achieving my writing goals.

That’s all we can do—do what works best for us. What works best for you?

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Writing Rules and You

I know you’ve seen them. We all have. Everybody and their uncle (momma, cousin, auntie, sister-in-law twice removed) has a list of rules they uphold to be true of any writer.

 

I’ve come to give you my professional opinion: It’s a load of crap.

Now, just wait a minute and hear me out. Like most things in the writing business, those writing rules are completely subjective. To clarify, I’m not talking about craft rules specific to genres. You need those. Even if you plan on writing the next best thing and want to shake things up a bit, you should probably know the rules you wish to break.

Those lists of writing rules are great if you take them with a grain of salt and acknowledge not everything works for everybody. On the other hand, they do become problematic when you take them as law and they make you feel like less of a writer.

I encourage you to create your own list of rules and tweak them as you discover what does and doesn’t work for you. After all, writing is a process. Treat it as one.

I’m including my personal list of writing rules that work for me. Feel free to share your own.

My Writing Rules (for me!)

  1. Don’t write every day. Give the ideas and words time to simmer in my mind.
  2. Remember Rule #1 and don’t beat myself up if I don’t write for a spell. (Life happens! Just keep thinking.)
  3. Only revise as I write if I leave TrackChanges on.
  4. Save different versions of manuscripts by date.
  5. Stop acting like I don’t need an outline. I always eventually do, even if it’s a reverse outline.
  6. If writing seems like a chore, see if there’s something in the manuscript that’s keeping me from wanting to dive back in.
  7. At least read a writing blog or article if I’m wasting time on social media.
  8. Grammarly. Use it.
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Acknowledging the “What-ifs”

I love a great line, and I’ll never forget this gem from my mother-in-law. Despite my (at the time) toddler being mid-meltdown, she offered him this advice: “Don’t let the devil ruin your day!”

I cannot explain to you how hard I laughed at the time.

whatifs

The same goes for the what-ifs. The what-ifs? That’s what I call those pesky questions that nag us when we are in a writing slump, the doubts that have us believing that we’re imposters and aren’t good writers, the negative thoughts that tell us our WIP is hot garbage, etc. (And yes, this is what they look like in my head.)

What if my critique partners hate my book?

What if my revisions are making my manuscript worse?

What if I never get an agent?

What if I don’t get any interest while on submission?

What if nobody buys my book?

Don’t let the what-ifs ruin your day. And definitely, don’t let them ruin your dreams.

Do me a favor. The next time you’re being plagued by the what-ifs, go ahead and respond with a “Whatever!” Then, go ahead and keep pushing towards your writing goals.

Keep writing. I know I will.

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