We’ve all heard it a million times: BICHOK. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. We’re never going to finish our novels without those two simple steps, repeated over and over and over again.
But sometimes, even the world’s best advice is meant to be ignored.
I recently finished the most disruptive, disruptED three months of my writing career. In the course of promoting DARKBEAST, I completed more than thirty blog tour posts (along with maintaining my own social media). I traveled to two major conventions. I made another dozen appearances at bookstores and schools. I traveled to New York for a business meeting with my editor and the marketing department.
(The three months of disruption weren’t all work-based. I also traveled to celebrate landmark anniversaries with family, and I enjoyed my usual autumn re-awakening of the cultural season — plays, orchestral performances, lectures, etc.)
Every day that I was home during those three months, I vowed that I would start writing my new novel (THE SINGLE WITCH’S SURVIVAL GUIDE, a fourth volume in my Jane Madison series.) I stared at my outline. I cracked my fingers in elaborate gestures, like a concert pianist sitting down at the bench. I tried my hardest to concentrate.
And then I would get pulled off in another direction, by some time-sensitive, must-be-done-NOW emergency. (And yes, these were real emergencies — not the dilatory tactics that we all indulge in when we’re procrastinating. These were career-shaping issues that had to be resolved immediately.)
SURVIVAL GUIDE wasn’t totally ignored. I squeezed in writing time whenever I could — between career crises, between novel promotion, between family obligations, between household responsibilities. I wrote the first 5000-word chapter over the course of almost three weeks. I edited it over another week, then edited it again, then considered throwing the whole thing out because it was so choppy.
I wrote the second chapter over another fortnight, then *did* throw it out because it was unbelievably awkward. I re-wrote the second chapter over two *more* weeks, grumbling, and muttering, and swearing all the while.
After all, writers write. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.
But ultimately, I concluded that that wonderful writing advice was not absolute. Sometimes, there are special circumstances. Sometimes, it really *is* better not to write.
When I realized that truth, I decided to wrap up my Season of Distraction by doing various administrative tasks — things vital to my writing career, but things that could be handled effectively into half- or whole-day chunks. I updated my websites. I studied new templates for the Morgan Keyes site revision (coming to an Internet near you in 2013). I updated my earnings spreadsheets (including the book-by-book breakdown, so that I can figure out where to next focus my creative energies). I updated my tax spreadsheets — income and deductions. I even completed my filing of an amendment on my 2011 taxes, correcting a mistake I’d known about for six months but had not handled.
Did I end up with a finished manuscript of SURVIVAL GUIDE by December 1, as I had originally planned?
But I used my time even more effectively.
Of course, the only trick with ignoring the world’s best writing advice is that you have to go back to writing sometime. (If you don’t, then you’re not being canny and shrewd. You’re being a procrastinator.)
I’m ready now. With my plate relatively clear for the rest of December and all of January, I’m ready to submerge myself in SURVIVAL GUIDE. I’m ready to keep my butt in my chair. I’m ready to keep my hands on the keyboard.
So? What about you? When have you bucked good, solid writing advice, with great results for your writing career? Would you make those choices again?