For the past week, I’ve been running around like the proverbial decapitated chicken. Today was the first time in too long that I had several hours to sit in my office and get a large chunk of work done. I set myself a goal for the day (made it!!) and got to work.
In other words, I did Butt In Chair (B.I.C.).
We’ve all heard the phrase. On a good day, we love the acronym and feel proud of how disciplined and productive we are. We even add F.O.K.T. (Fingers on Keyboard Typing) to our commitment.
On a bad day, we pretty much want to send the chair and the keyboard through the window.
This may be because we’re stuck on a too-narrow definition–the one that says B.I.C means typing away, putting words on the page, and sending those pages to the printer.
Today, I MAYBE typed 100 words.
My B.I.C. time was spent thinking. I was working on the next stage of The Critiquer’s Survival Guide. I have an interesting task to do while I write this book, and that is to create a very small sample of each genre for which I discuss critiquing. I’m using excerpts from real books, too, but those are for the good example. I couldn’t very well pick up a novel I thought was “not-so-good” and then write, publicly, about why I thought it didn’t work. So I’m making up those not-so-good examples.
Today was my day to pick topics. Even though I only have to write a page or two for each, I knew that–if I didn’t have a plan ahead of time–I’d hit a major stumbling block each time I started writing a new chapter. And stumbling blocks can pretty much triple that B.I.C. time!
How did I spend my B.I.C. hours? I thought. I scribbled ideas in a notebook, thought about my life and experiences, any things I might be a semi-expert on (to write something purposefully bad, you pretty much have to write it decently first). I closed my eyes and visualized, dipped into my memories and my opinions.
And then I typed a word or six.
There are days I don’t even come to my desk for B.I.C. Opening a chapter file—new or existing–can be deadly for brainstorming plot events or developing characters. You look at the empty page, or at the words you’ve already written, and you get stuck. You have no idea where to start the scene, or you’re frozen at the idea of changing any of the words you’ve already written.
For big thinking, I do B.I.C. in my rocking chair. Usually, it’s tucked away in a corner of my office. My husband and son drop into it occasionally for a chat. But when I don’t know where I’m going, when I have to explore concept stuff, I pull the chair out. I put a blank notepad next to me, with a pen, and get a cup of hot tea to sip on. And I rock.
The ideas come. Without a CPU, monitor, or keyboard anywhere nearby.
I’ll admit. As soon as I’ve got the thoughts, I’m back at the desk chair. I don’t trust my notepads or my brain to keep things straight. Everything goes into a computer file and gets printed out to the appropriate binder–my one-stop containment center. But it all starts in that rocking chair.
Be careful what chair you pick on any given day. Use B.I.C., but don’t let it use (or abuse) you. Writing is so many more things than just writing. You wear multiple hats as an author, and you need just as many places to wear them.
What’s your favorite chair, and how do you use it for writing?