The Most Powerful Tip Ever to Get You
According to his daughter Susan, novelist John Cheever (1912 – 1982) …
" … wrote in a windowless storage space in the basement of our apartment house. In the morning he put on his one suit, went down in the elevator with other men on their way to work, took off the suit, hung it up and wrote in his boxer shorts."
Cheever would write till nightfall and then put his suit back on and go back to his apartment.
When playwright and songwriter ("Yankee Doodle Dandy" and "Give My Regards to Broadway") George M. Cohan (1878 – 1942) needed to come up with his next script, he would buy a train ticket from New York to Chicago.
He'd spend the entire trip in the Pullman drawing room, and when he emerged from the train in Chicago, he would have the finished script in hand.
Besides inventing the lightning rod, bifocals, and the iron furnace stove (among other things), Ben Franklin (1706 – 1790) was the first American to own a bathtub. (He imported it from Europe.)
Franklin not only loved to soak in it, he also loved to write in it.
Franklin wasn't the only person who loved writing in the tub. French playwright (Cyrano de Bergerac) Edmond Rostand (1868 – 1918) also loved to write in the bathtub. As did Vladimir Nabokov (1899 – 1977), author of the controversial novel Lolita.
Besides being wonderful writers, what is the common denominate of the authors I've just mentioned?
It can be summed up in two words. They knew the value of …
As Bly describes it in his book Write More, Sell More, the act of staying seated means …
"You apply the bottom of your pants (your rear end) to the seat (your chair) and stay there until the work gets done."
This eliminates a lot of other things you could be doing if you're a freelance writer working from home … like laundry, watching television, making yourself a snack in the kitchen, and so on.
Of all the tips for writing faster available in the world, "staying seated" is probably the one that will increase your writing input the fastest. As Bly mentions in his book, mystery author Georges Simenon (1903 – 1989) was able to write 500 books simply by writing without interruption.
When I feel bankrupt of ideas or simply unmotivated, I’ve found that if I keep myself at my desk in my chair and focus on the task at hand, sooner or later, good things happen.
Bly recommends that you minimize both your distractions and the need to get up out of your chair. That means keeping any files, books, supplies, etc. you need within arm's reach (which probably eliminates Franklin's "tub method.")
So during your writing time, set your writing goal, and whether it's two pages or ten pages, park yourself in your chair and get to it.
I'm not suggesting you shouldn't take scheduled breaks, but you'll accomplish a lot more if you "apply the bottom of your pants to the seat" instead of lying down, getting up to make yourself a coffee, plopping yourself down in front the television set, making an unnecessary trip into town, and so on.
Do you think "staying seated" is the ultimate writing tip? Or do you have something else that trumps it? Please share your comments below.
So now you know how to get your projects done. But have you ever been between paying assignments and wondered what you should do with your time? If so, check out my article "16 Ways to Turn Writing 'Dead Time' into Productive Time … "
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