As always, on Mondays I try to get the week off to a good, productive start by discussing ways I’ve found to encourage, bribe, or outright trick Bridget, my muse, into knuckling down to work. Bridget, like most muses, is temperamental, lazy, and prone to pouting. (Yes, Bridgie, you are. Now tuck your bottom lip back in and stick with me.)
As indicated in a recent quote from Maya Angelou on this blog, even the finest of authors have trouble kickstarting their muse. (No, I don’t mean actually kicking you, Bridget. Although I will if you keep this up.) But, all tips and tricks aside, there is one thing you have to do to get muses to wake up and get going. I’ll share that secret with you, but I’m gonna tell you flat out, you aren’t going to like it.
Cause the sad truth is, it isn’t a secret. There is one absolute sine qua non* for Muse management, and we all know what it is. It’s kind of the literary equivalent of “how to lose weight.”
The sad truth is, losing weight takes eating less and exercising more. End of story. Of course, the tips and tricks are all designed to get you to do that. But boiled down to its essence, it isn’t a secret. We all know what to do.
Same with writing. Here’s the magic formula — B.I.T.C.H.O.K.
Of course, you know what that stands for: Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. No deep dark secret, no surprises. If you want to write, sit your butt in your chair, put your hands on the keyboard, and write.
Researching isn’t writing. Networking with other writers isn’t writing. For God’s sake, surfing the net for inspiration isn’t writing. Writing is writing.
And if you force yourself to do that, every day, for however long it takes, sooner or later your muse will figure out that you mean business, and she will show up. To show you who is the boss, she will sometimes show up without a single good idea, but eventually she will decide that she might as well get on with it. And then, the two of you will be working as a team, and you will write.
In order to make darling Bridgie get serious, I have a commitment. Every day, without fail, I will write 100 words on my WIP.
Now, yes, that seems like very little. That’s the whole point. Between the day job, and the family, and the friends, and the frenemies, and everything else, there are some days I look at my keyboard and want to simply puke. I can’t think of anything more distasteful than writing. But, as dear Dorothy Parker put it, while I don’t always like writing, I LOVE having written.
Its the starting that is hard. Once I make myself sit and do my hundred, I often find that Bridgie and I will keep on. We’ll do several hundred, if not thousands. But if I ever tell myself I have to write a thousand, Bridgie and I will just stamp our little feet like Shirley Temple and refuse.
I was doing pretty well with the hundred word challenge for a few weeks. Then, as is all too common with my bipolar self, I let my mood distract me. I went several days without writing, and Bridget took herself off to parts unknown.
When I finally sat myself down and made myself write, it was hard. Bridgie wanted to stay on vacation. But I think over the past few days, I have convinced her that we are going to either write 100 words of crap or 100+ words of something good every day. And since Bridget is pretty cocky about her writing skills, she has decided to go for good stuff instead of crap.
Butt in chair, hands on keyboard. The only real writing advice there is.
*Oh, yes, Ro’mama can sling Latin with the best of them. Had to get something out of that expensive law school education.