Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Flexing those writing muscles

One of the members of a writing community I belong to today posted an entry from Chuck Wendig that really resonated with me.

Click here for the link to his post.

As a fairly green writer (in the world of fiction, at least), I tend to rely much too heavily on some sort of "divine" inspiration. My muse sounds a lot like Wendig's horse, too easily spooked and very nervous. It's tough to coax decent material out of that kind of muse. I always seem to be too busy dangling carrots, trying to soothe my muse/horse, and waste time when I should just be writing. I tell myself, "Just do it, woman." And then I open my doc, stare at it, and then get distracted with other things.

I freely admit and often pronounce that my muse is a fickle bitch. Well, I suppose I'm making a confession about my own character. And when it comes to my writing, I'm easily distracted and make excuses for my procrastination. There, I said it. Let the healing begin!

This community post got a lot of response from members, some calling it "Writer's Distraction," and "Writer's Procrastination." Most definitely. And it's a lot like going to the gym, this writing thing.

Depending on what you read, research states it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days (but the average was 66 days) to form a new habit. I've heard everything from 21 days to 90 days, so pick a number that you like.  I think I'm going with 60. Two months sounds about right for me, based on other habit-forming experiences.

Okay, so back to my analogy. Before I had my daughter, I committed myself to getting rid of extra weight and getting healthy. I told myself I'd give my new exercise regimen two months - 60 days - and if I didn't like it or if it didn't produce results, I'd try something else. By the time those 60 days were up, I'd stopped counting the days and was in the thralls of my Crossfit habit. I dropped nearly 30 pounds and felt great.

Writing is a habit we must create in our lives. We alone hold the keys to our success in getting the writing accomplished. We alone can psych ourselves right out of it. There's always a reason NOT to write, just like there's always a reason NOT to work out- too much laundry or too many household chores to do; a good program on TV or a game we're itching to play; a book that keeps us away from our writing (though that's not always a bad thing); kids, spouses, parents, family; work; and life in general. There's never enough time in the day - no one will argue against that.

But making the time to write is like making the time to work out. And both come down to a simple key: discipline

In writing and ultimately getting published, it's a game of numbers and simple math (I cannot believe I'm using numbers or math in a post!): the more time we put into our writing, the more we write, the more likely we are to come up with some material fit for our book! And the more material we have, the more likely it is for some of it to be good! Damn good!

So in the spirit of writing and working long-ignored muscles, I'm pledging to quit making excuses. Now is the time for action. Sure, the laundry might pile up, the dust bunnies might threaten to attack, and it might get a little crazy in my house for a while, but I'm committed. (insert bad joke HERE)

Are you?


  1. When I took creative writing, my professor told us we had to train our muse. We had to teach he/she/otherwise that we would be at the same place at the same time everyday. There are no other writing classes that he knows of that teach this, and yet it is the proven rule. It is the only thing set in stone. All arts need to be practiced.

    And I love Wendig. He's awesome!

  2. Training works, too! And I'm becoming a fast fan. I've reserved Mockingbird and can't wait to read it!

  3. This is pretty much me. I can always find an excuse not to right and I'm always getting distracted. Thanks for the words of wisdom. =)