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View Full Version : Butt in Chair - Does this method hold water?



Arimak
08-11-2008, 12:48 PM
I've tried it, and it doesn't do it for me. While I can appreciate it from a time management standpoint - making time to write, and eliminating the excuse of not having time - I don't see how it helps people to churn out original prose.

I would wake up well before dawn, make some coffee, drink said coffee, make more coffee, (by now, I'm starting to actually wake up), and sit in front of my screen... and sit... and sit. Sometimes I'd haphazardly type a scene, read it, and virtually wipe my nose with it before throwing it in the trash.

Writing after a day at work usually doesn't pan out so well, and I may very well be at a job site well into the night. My job isn't very stressful, but some of the tasks are menial, and tax my mind to the point that sometimes I have to walk away from it so I can look at it later with a fresh set of eyes. (I do custom system implementations and support.)

Sometimes I hit a wall, and can't think of how to progress a story. Sure I have a rough idea of certain events I want to put on paper, but getting from one to the next is occassionally a task in itself.

Sometimes, I'll sit down with a tiny nugget of inspiration and write for seven hours straight (noting that it's 3:40 AM right now where I live).



For me, the BIC, or 'Write x Hours a Day, or Sit There' method is a waste of a good x hours.

What's your experience with this method from a writing standpoint? Does it help you put words on paper/screen?

Mr Flibble
08-11-2008, 01:21 PM
It works for me. But it's not going to work for everyone.

It works for me becuase I procrastinate so badly, but I know that once I get that first sentence down I'll be off like a rat up a drainpipe. I just need the nudge to get started.

Obviously you need to find something else that works for you. That said, it's difficult to write without your BIC - unless you perfect the art of writing standing up.

Inkdaub
08-11-2008, 01:31 PM
To a point I suppose. But I can do a lot of not-writing with my butt in the chair so I think that this term is getting a bit dated. However, I do sit in the chair to write so first things first as they say...

Beach Bunny
08-11-2008, 01:37 PM
I think the idea behind the BIC method is sound. It doesn't really work for me, when I feel inspired to write, then I write. HOWEVER, I am not making excuses for not having written a novel, yet, with excuses like "I don't have time to write." or "I haven't felt inspired." yada yada yada IF I was coming up with those kinds of reasons for not having written much of anything, then the butt in chair method would be beneficial to me.

There is an element of this method that I think may be missing in your approach and that is to write whatever comes into your head regardless of what it is until something sparks. So, it might look something like this:
Okay, here I am sitting with my butt in my chair. Who came up with such a stupid idea. ackkk nothing is coming out. my mind is a blank. I wish I had more coffee. coffee. Juan Valdez. That coffee commercial with the farmer in Colombia. Drug smugglers using donkeys and hiding their shipments in Juan's coffee beans ....
Eh, well, you get the idea.

Disa
08-11-2008, 01:40 PM
Sometimes BIC works. I think one of the reasons I can't get my novel written is I feel like (due to a full time job, family, etc.,) I can't ever fully immerse myself in the world of the novel. I've had a few days worth of writing(2 in a row) where I was very productive, but that's about as much as I can spare in one sitting and it isn't often. What helps is, getting up in the middle, going for a walk, taking a shower, or some other misc task to get my mind off the WIP and get my body moving. Often a flash of inspiration will show up that will connect me from one point to the next.

Aside from that, I just write down Ideas as they come. I have waded up notes all over the house and in the bottom of my purse. Sometimes, they make it to my writing area where I can actually use them. I just have to take the free minutes I have and write. The BIC works after the ideas have been percolating for a while, and when I'm ready to sit down, they just come flowing out onto the paper.

Shweta
08-11-2008, 01:53 PM
I would wake up well before dawn, make some coffee, drink said coffee, make more coffee, (by now, I'm starting to actually wake up), and sit in front of my screen... and sit... and sit. Sometimes I'd haphazardly type a scene, read it, and virtually wipe my nose with it before throwing it in the trash.
Sounds like you're not an early morning writer. I know I'm not, unless the early morning is really last night and I haven't been to bed yet.

But given the other constraints, can you make 15 minutes of time after a shower or some such? So that you have the (let's say shower, since it's what works for me) time to think about your story, daydream, etc, and 15 minutes of furious typing-up what you thought of in the shower?

Starting with a few hours doesn't seem useful, but if you can get 15 minutes to work, you can start building that time up to an hour or two.


Sometimes, I'll sit down with a tiny nugget of inspiration and write for seven hours straight (noting that it's 3:40 AM right now where I live).
Inspiration's a wonderful thing. BIC is what keeps a story going when inspiration happens not to hit.


What's your experience with this method from a writing standpoint? Does it help you put words on paper/screen?
My personal experience is, I don't do N hours. I do N words. I'm there, sweating blood, till I get the words in.

On the other hand I'm currently something of an invalid and not doing anything else. It wouldn't work for anyone else, and once my health is back up a bit and I'm working on the dissertation again, it probably won't work for me, and I'll only get an hour a day or something.

PS: :welcome:!
PPS: this is not a novel-specific thing, it's more a general discussion, so I'm going to shunt it to the roundtable :)

Ken
08-11-2008, 01:57 PM
everyone is different. You've got to find the method that works best for you. Bottom line though is that in order to improve at writing, or anything, you've got to commit a certain amount of hours to it each and every week. Quality arises from quantity.

KTC
08-11-2008, 02:02 PM
I agree with Anis. Everybody is different. You just have to find what works best for you. For me, BIC is almost the only way I get things done. I do a novel marathon once a year where I sit in a chair and write an entire novel. It's the best writing time of the year for me. I feel I can't do it at all now unless I do it marathon style.

darrtwish
08-11-2008, 04:01 PM
It's hit or miss for me, as far as quality of product, but it does help. Some days I get a lot done, other days I get very little and will spend an hour on one page, but either way I do get something done when I force myself to write...like I should be doing right now...

triceretops
08-11-2008, 05:05 PM
My biggest distraction is the friggin internet. I'm now writing for 45 minutes before I'm even allowed to go into to cyberspace and play bumper pool with all the talking heads. BIC doesn't mean anything if you don't sit down with the idea that your story has to progress. Getting that spark going is tough, and of course, I'm hard on myself. I do have a quota of sorts and force myself to report to the Weekend Progress Report (At AW). I've written eight novels there, and I can go back in time and find those archives--all of my bitching and ranting. But...all of my "The Ends", too.

Tri

Charlie Horse
08-11-2008, 05:30 PM
If by BIC you equate that to sitting there until inspiration strikes, often times finding that the inspiration has gone off to take a nap, then you're not doing it right. The only way (and this, of course, is just my very unprofessional opinion) to be productive as a writer is to develop that regular daily routine. Sure, you're not always going to be inspired and you're not always going to churn out page after page of magnificent prose. That's not your goal. Your goal is to get something done. If you can't think of anything to write, then write crap. At least you're writing, which is more than you can say if you're not writing.

The point is, unless you allow yourself to write crap you're never going to get anything done. If you have this idea in your head that you need to be inspired before you sit down and write then chances are you'll miss a good many opportunities because inspiration doesn't always pick times that are necessarily convenient.

I'm a firm believer in setting up a schedule and sticking to it. It's like any other skill, if you don't practice on a regular basis, you'll never become proficient. One of the keys to becoming successful at anything is discipline and discipline is what BIC is all about.

DeadlyAccurate
08-11-2008, 05:32 PM
Everyone has to find the method that works for them, but the reason BIC is so highly recommended is simply that some times you don't feel like writing. But if you want to write professionally, you have to write even on those days when you're just not feeling inspired.

Are you perhaps spending too much of your first draft writing time trying to get it perfect first go-round? That might be your problem.

KikiteNeko
08-11-2008, 05:44 PM
There will always be an excuse not to write.

I like to write late at night, until early dawn, listening to music. But with a 9/5 job I couldn't do that. I had to write with free time at work and on breaks, sitting in an office, and after work when I was tired and drained. It wasn't easy but I finished my novel and got an agent that way. And yes, sometimes I sat there and wrote nothing, or only wrote a sentence that was deleted later. It happens. It's hard work.

Toothpaste
08-11-2008, 07:03 PM
As Charlie Horse said, the concept of Butt In Chair, isn't to sit there and wait for inspiration, it's to force yourself to write, as horrible as the writing may be, or as painful as it might feel. It's about writing nonsense, it's about just doing it, and then getting into a groove. Waiting for inspiration is not going to cut it. Inspiration eludes us most of the time. To make up for it is hard graft, really hard graft.

At the same time, if you are finding it utterly impossible to do BIC, then that isn't for you. But from what you describe, it sounds to me like you are sitting waiting for something to happen. Sometimes you have to force it.

Inkspill
08-11-2008, 07:17 PM
BIC works for me. Some days I get home, utterly exhausted from a huge mid-term/final or such, and all I want to do is sleep. Nope. I do my BIC quota first--at least 500 words--before I do anything else. Usually, I find persistence works and I'm 1k or higher on most days.
That said, sometimes I really can't write--due to being sick, family issues. So I don't.

I am mostly echoing what the others have said, but I'll add another voice in anyway. It seems like you are waiting for some great idea to happen, and are frustrated when nothing comes. Oftentimes, nothing does come, and you have to devise some less-than-perfect way to get from plot point A to plot point B, or even create plot point B as a less than desirable plot point. It's okay to do this. First drafts are fine for doing this, and it's getting the words down that counts.

Bottom line: It is okay to write utter crap sometimes. At least you're doing it.
Think of it this way: If two people learned to fly planes, and one became an ace flyer his first time, but the other had a shaky takeoff, do you think anyone's going to congratulate them any less? They're still flying.

--Inkspill

Shadow_Ferret
08-11-2008, 07:37 PM
For me, the BIC, or 'Write x Hours a Day, or Sit There' method is a waste of a good x hours.

What's your experience with this method from a writing standpoint? Does it help you put words on paper/screen?
I think the point is that you can't do ANY writing if you AREN'T BIC.

There are two issues.

First, BIC.

Second, granting yourself permission to write crap.

CaoPaux
08-11-2008, 07:39 PM
Some days are indeed more difficult than others....

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y233/caopaux/Jessie3a.jpg

RG570
08-11-2008, 07:39 PM
It works fine for me. I don't know how else one would do it. There is writing, and there is not writing. I think it works better if you actually write, but maybe there's an easier way to get it done of which I am not aware.

tehuti88
08-11-2008, 08:07 PM
It works for me (most of the time) because I honestly can't think of any other way to get oneself writing, other than just sitting and writing. Seriously. What other way is there to write, than to write?

I realize not everyone will agree but to try otherwise is just mystifying to me personally. Oh yes, I have days where I will sit and not feel like writing anything, and when I really WON'T write anything, but I really can't imagine any other method working for me. If I really want to get something written, the only thing I can do is just sit and write it. *shrug*

Madison
08-11-2008, 08:25 PM
It worked for me yesterday, even though it was NOT FUN. I'm writing a synopsis right now, the crappiest one I've ever written, but I had to get a first draft. So I forced myself to sit at my computer with only a word document open and just get to the end - didn't matter if it was awful - I just needed a rough draft down.

I think that's an important part of BIC - just getting it down. It's a lot easier (at least for me) to work with second drafts. Yeah, it's hard. I was screaming by the end. But that's BIC, too - it takes practice to force yourself to sit. I didn't used to be able to do that - I'd get distracted with this site or something.

KTC
08-11-2008, 08:27 PM
Yes. For me it's all about writing non-stop while the B is I the C. I wouldn't sit there if I wasn't writing.

Elladog
08-11-2008, 09:17 PM
It definitely works for me. I can't tell you how many times I've sat and just let the crap flow, feeling embarassed the whole time about what dreck I was putting down and praying that I wouldn't be struck dead before I could erase it so nobody would know what a horrible writer I am. But then, reading it over the next day or week, I almost without fail find that there's a little gem in there somewhere, or at very least an inspired idea that can be rewritten into a gem. Definitely more productive than the alternative, which for me is not writing at all.

Polenth
08-11-2008, 09:52 PM
Scheduling/forcing writing doesn't usually work for me. I've done it sometimes, when contest deadlines roll around, but it's a last resort. Normally, I write when I feel like it for as long as I feel like it.

The important thing is that I feel like writing often. So the fact I don't have a schedule isn't a big deal. It won't work if you're someone who feels like writing once a month. You'll never get anything done.

katiemac
08-11-2008, 10:01 PM
It works for me becuase I procrastinate so badly, but I know that once I get that first sentence down I'll be off like a rat up a drainpipe. I just need the nudge to get started.


A method that usually works for me: If I'm in the middle of writing a scene, I'll stop before the flow is gone, usually after a good 1000-1500 word block. It's a lot easier to come back the next day when you know where it's going, rather than finishing a scene, stopping, and dreading going back to figure out where you left off.

SPMiller
08-11-2008, 10:04 PM
Yeah, whoever said it isn't about waiting for inspiration but rather forcing yourself to write even in the absence of inspiration is absolutely correct.

I work well under deadlines provided something doesn't pop up in real life to get in the way--like, say, an unexpected onset of BPV plus my uncle breaking his arm. Unfortunately deadlines are rare. I tend to do better if I force myself to write a horribly ugly version of what I want this scene to end up looking like, then revise it bit by bit into something beautiful--or at least acceptable.

Danger Jane
08-12-2008, 12:44 AM
It works very well for some. For me, a better method is X hundred words finished by the end of the day, in Y story. Doesn't have to be all at once, although often once I get in the groove, I often end up exceeding my goal in one sitting.

I often find that the more frequently and the more words I write, the more inspired I feel. It's when I taper off in discipline that I lose the inspiration. Still, if one day for whatever reason I cannot force out a single decent word...sometimes that's not worth it. Sometimes churning out terrible crap for 250 words ends up messing me up when I go back to edit, or stops me in my tracks when I try to move forward. That's when I give it a rest.

Linda Adams
08-12-2008, 02:18 AM
What's your experience with this method from a writing standpoint? Does it help you put words on paper/screen?


For me, yes, it does. One of the things that really got me into doing it nearly every day (I take a break once a week) is that the agents and publishers are expecting about a book a year, so I have to learn how to meet a deadline, even when the story is being stubborn. If I didn't have a deadline on myself, I'd find all kinds of reasons to do something else, especially when I got stuck.

I'm just getting through a section now which is vital to the entire book but has been very difficult to write. I finally had my breakthrough moment last week, and one of the reasons was because I kept at it and kept at it. But I wasn't just staring at the screen (though at times the Internet was a problem)--I tried a lot of different things to see if they would work.

But I'm also flexible on what I do write. I don't have a set word count, nor do I have a set time I have to stay at the computer. It usually ends up being about an hour or two in the evening. Sometimes I'll even spend ten or fifteen minutes in the morning before I go to work. I think one of the keys is to set reasonable goals that are easy to attain. My basic goal is to get something done.

Plot Device
08-12-2008, 02:25 AM
My muse only wants to meet me at the same place every time. So as far as butt-in-chair, is it the SAME chair every time? In the same location?

I had a favorite table at Starbuck's for almost an entire year. I was not as productive if I had to sit at any other table in the store than that one.

Phoebe H
08-12-2008, 05:17 AM
BIC works very well for me now.

However, the last time I tried this writer thing, mumblety years ago it didn't work at all. It's worth mentioning that if you have major unresolved issues in your life, that can completely wall off your creativity. (Close enough to smell it, but not to actually touch it.) I went through a lot of years thinking that I had a writing problem, when I really had a life problem. As soon as I fixed that, all of the things that people had told me would work, actually started working.

May not apply to you at all...but it is always worth considering.

Riley
08-12-2008, 06:45 AM
Until I performed the ever-unpopular BIC, I did not finish one thing. Not ONE. THING.

I think BIC is important and extremely useful--if you don't force it upon yourself until you're too stressed out to do so much as think about writing. BIC develops discipline, teaches you to write even when there's no inspiration. BIC also makes writing into a habit. For example, I want to stop writing, but because I've written for several hours everyday for almost ten years, it's near physically impossible for me to stop (sort of like cigarette smoking). If you want to write regularly to any degree, BIC is important.

BIC doesn't necessarily mean you sit down for X amount of hours and produce X amount of work. BIC means you choose an amount of time (you might divvy it up if you're the fidgety type,) and aim for a reasonable goal. For me, that's 2,000 words in an hour a day. It's easy for me because once I get going, I can keep on for about that long. Also, I type fast. Your BIC will probably vary from mine.

One of the most important things about it, I think, is that BIC is flexible. If you can't write for a few days, then don't BIC. If you want a break, then fine. Don't BIC.

BIC forces you to learn to work past difficult scenes. I'll be the first to admit that sometimes, when I'm doing my hour, I hit a difficult scene. I've learned how to push past these, now. This isn't to say the scene is particularly good or bad, just that I can work through it. I'm not pinned beneath the whimsy of that fickle muse called the Creative Mind.

No method of writing works for everyone. However, some methods work for a large amount of people, and that's when the advice/mandates make the rounds. Because BIC works--more or less--for a large group of online and offline writers, you hear about it quite a bit.

James81
08-12-2008, 06:48 AM
I think it should be:

BIC, UTI

Butt in chair, unplug the internet. lol

KTC
08-12-2008, 07:16 AM
I think it should be:

BIC, UTI

Butt in chair, unplug the internet. lol


Don't end a prophetic piece of wisdom with lol. Please.


Now, please...carve that in stone so we remember!

Plot Device
08-12-2008, 07:24 AM
BIC works very well for me now.

However, the last time I tried this writer thing, mumblety years ago it didn't work at all. It's worth mentioning that if you have major unresolved issues in your life, that can completely wall off your creativity. (Close enough to smell it, but not to actually touch it.) I went through a lot of years thinking that I had a writing problem, when I really had a life problem. As soon as I fixed that, all of the things that people had told me would work, actually started working.

May not apply to you at all...but it is always worth considering.


I think it should be:



BIC, UTI



Butt in chair, unplug the internet. lol



I'd like to add to this by saying that when I bought my first laptop I deliberately did NOT connect it to the internet (and it remains quarantined from the net to this day). And so I have succesfuly segregated my internet activity only to the desktop PC, and all my writing to the laptop.

And nary the twain shall meet.

So if anyone here has a problem with/weakness for/addition to the internet, my advice is to eliminate the temptation completely and do all your writing on a non-internet computer.

Bartholomew
08-12-2008, 07:41 AM
Every time I sit down to write something, I end up here.

Riley
08-12-2008, 07:50 AM
Every time I sit down to write something, I end up here.

Sometimes I think this should be AW's slogan.

Plot Device
08-12-2008, 09:11 AM
Every time I sit down to write something, I end up here.


Disconnect from the internet, dude! It's the only way!

ishtar'sgate
08-12-2008, 09:58 AM
Yes, it works for me as 'procrastination' is my middle name and I have to make myself sit at my desk. I usually leave off writing just before I've completed a scene so it's a bit easier to get into it the next day. Eventually I reach the point where I don't have to force myself to get to work but that's not usually until I'm several chapters into the story.
Linnea

virtue_summer
08-12-2008, 10:37 AM
It works for me. Since I've been giving myself a certain number of words to write every day I've been getting more done and am finally heading down the homestretch to finish the first draft of my novel. Is everything I write good? No. Is some of it good? Yes. I believe that some good writing is better than no writing and that the bad stuff can always be cut or rewritten later but at least I'm getting the story out. Revisions are easier to me than waiting and trying to get everything perfect the first time around.

Quossum
08-12-2008, 10:03 PM
It works for me. As many others have said, it's the discipline of it. There might be times when things aren't flowing that I sit there kind of staring into space, forcing out a sentence or two, but if I allowed myself to go do other things instead, I'd never get past that rough spot and then my writing would end up stalled.

I used to be notorious for not finishing, letting stories with interesting starts fizzle out. Nowadays I work through those places. If certain sections turn out crappy, there's the editing phase to tighten things up. But you've got to have a first draft to edit!

--Q

jkcates
08-12-2008, 10:20 PM
Gonna have to defend the BIC method, but with a particular caveat. When they say Butt in Chair, they dont mean BIC and watching YouTube or reading emails. They mean BIC, and writing. In other words, you have to make yourself write. Even if you dont want to, even if its likely going to end up deleted or in a bin. What you are trying to do is to start a habit, and since it is a habit that isnt easy, you have to plod on through. Once you get in the habit though, you will (hopefully) find that you NEED to write every day, and that is where you want to get.
I have often thought about what makes a great writer. Honestly, I have mostly come to the conclusion that everyone (yes I said everyone) probably has one good story in them. The people who can make a living at writing seem to be those who can make themselves write even when they dont want to/arent 'inspired'. That is why getting some good habits formed are so important to being a professional writer. Thats also why almost any well known writer I have ever read/talked to refer to the BIC method. Which isnt to say you cant modify the method. You can have BIC at midnight, as long as you are consistent.

Just my few cents worth

Arimak
08-13-2008, 06:27 AM
Well, of course I know that I can't write without my butt in the chair. (I think whoever said that, did so sarcastically. :P)

I'm not a big procrastinator when it comes to something I thoroughly enjoy, so not getting around to it isn't really a problem for me. I do make time for writing if the inspiration is there, however. (That can't be said for a lot of things... paying bills, going to the gym, eating, working...)

While I can understand the point of view of making writing a habit, I just can't force anything good, not a single thing. At the end of a session, I read what I wrote, and if I forced anything, it's painfully obvious, and clearly does not read well, sounds dry, or simply doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

Forcing fiction out of my head is like trying to force my crowd of screaming characters through a locked door. It isn't a small door, it's bolted shut, or so it feels when I try to force prose.


A method that usually works for me: If I'm in the middle of writing a scene, I'll stop before the flow is gone, usually after a good 1000-1500 word block. It's a lot easier to come back the next day when you know where it's going, rather than finishing a scene, stopping, and dreading going back to figure out where you left off.


Scheduling/forcing writing doesn't usually work for me. I've done it sometimes, when contest deadlines roll around, but it's a last resort. Normally, I write when I feel like it for as long as I feel like it.

The important thing is that I feel like writing often. So the fact I don't have a schedule isn't a big deal. It won't work if you're someone who feels like writing once a month. You'll never get anything done.

These describe me more accurately. I can, quite literally, sit down and churn out 10k words in one sitting, which was what I did at the time just before I wrote the OP. At the moment, I'm taking a *small* break because my next few scenes are going to drain me. (It's a mid-point mini climax. Think a gallon of conflict, 2 cups of chaos, and a dash of revelation. Also, I'm hungry.)

However, I can see where this may help in the duller moments in my story. I'll keep trying it, just because. If all else fails, I'll use the time to edit and proofread. ;)

gypsyscarlett
08-13-2008, 07:23 AM
I have to put on my sweats and pick up my dumbells to do my daily physical workout.

I'm one of those strange people who actually loves to exercise. What I don't like is taking the time to change clothes, get my music ready... Silly, considering that only takes a couple of moments.

BIC is the same thing for me. If I don't take those few moments to get my laptop, notes, and tea ready- I won't sit down and write.

No novel will be written if someone doesn't sit their butt down and write it. (I need to remind myself of this all the time). But we all have our different ways of doing it. Some write in long bursts, others sporadically throughout the day. Others need to write everyday to keep the momentum. Others find it best to work a few days a week. If BIC as described doesn't work for you- that's okay. You'll find your own way.

I just think it's important to find some kind of discipline.

Bartholomew
08-13-2008, 02:56 PM
Disconnect from the internet, dude! It's the only way!

Doesn't work. Unless I ask my girlfriend to hide the wireless adapter. (My family cheats so bad; we've got an "LAN" set up over three different apartments. Wireless FTW.)

But then I'll actually need to, you know, print something. And then I bloody well can't.

Bartholomew
08-13-2008, 02:56 PM
By the way, I finished an entire stupid short story tonight! AND I ONLY LOGGED IN SIX TIMES!

In your ... face... A.W. -- aw, nevermind.

KTC
08-13-2008, 02:59 PM
I'd like to add to this by saying that when I bought my first laptop I deliberately did NOT connect it to the internet (and it remains quarantined from the net to this day). And so I have succesfuly segregated my internet activity only to the desktop PC, and all my writing to the laptop.

And nary the twain shall meet.

So if anyone here has a problem with/weakness for/addition to the internet, my advice is to eliminate the temptation completely and do all your writing on a non-internet computer.

I too have a laptop without internet connectivity. It's never been online and when I am on it, it is only to write.

ishtar'sgate
08-13-2008, 08:05 PM
I too have a laptop without internet connectivity. It's never been online and when I am on it, it is only to write.
Good idea. I use paper and pencil for my first draft so I don't even need to BE at my computer desk.
Linnea

Claudia Gray
08-14-2008, 06:33 AM
It works for me. I don't do it all the time -- not when I'm outlining, for instance -- but when I am working on a first draft, I'll do many, many hours in a row. The book's got to get done one way or the other, and BIC makes it happen for me.

I understand the need for inspiration, but on the other hand, I can't count the number of times I've been slogging through, butt in chair, when suddenly inspiration strikes because I was there and ready for it.

shabbyitis
12-15-2010, 02:54 AM
Not that I have any plethora of credentials, but for me, writing is easy.

The trick to facilitating your writing is similar to the immortal work of the great grad-school abstract artist: throw a bunch of paint on a canvas and pray to whatever god you have that this one actually looks like art.

Honestly, I understand where you're coming from. I suck at coming up with parts that can really resonate with my reader, modesty aside, probably more than you ;) Writing anything of even moderate proficiency is like sculpting a full-scale replica of Mount Rushmore with a crowbar.

Just try not to censure yourself. Your a living person with real and serious experiences. Everything worth putting on paper is already in your head and in your memories. You just have to let it out without demanding it conform to what you feel a "good" writer should sound like. Will you conjure up some plot holes? Most likely. Will everything you write be relevant to the plot? Probably not. But at least when you're writing your pages and pages of tissue paper, you'll learn more about your characters, learn more about your voice as a writer, and discover some themes you never realized were actually influencing your writing and where you take your characters.

Personal examples of this method:

Took two characters to get coffee (got that off of AW). Result: scratched
Made a character put a gun in his pocket (also from AW). Result: he hasn't used it yet
Sent a character out on a drive in the country. Result: it's going somewhere, we got a winner!

Say we only use ten percent of what we write in the finished piece (possibly even this is a generous amount). Is that other ninety percent a waste? Not necessarily. I got the chance to know the world in the story more intimately.
So yeah, maybe I am fabricating this entire reality. But if it's going to be a believable reality for the audience it's got to be a little deeper than that collection of (rare) intricate work of prose that I do create every couple weeks.

[DISCLAIMER: This is my thing. Additionally, I am no accredited writer. And as of yet, this system has proved itself worthy for me alone so it's one opinion from a sea of opinions. If this little system works for you, awesome. If not, it was damn well worth a try, right?]

Hope my two cents helped :)

Good luck in searching for your "thing"!

Jamesaritchie
12-15-2010, 06:23 AM
I've tried it, and it doesn't do it for me. While I can appreciate it from a time management standpoint - making time to write, and eliminating the excuse of not having time - I don't see how it helps people to churn out original prose.

I would wake up well before dawn, make some coffee, drink said coffee, make more coffee, (by now, I'm starting to actually wake up), and sit in front of my screen... and sit... and sit. Sometimes I'd haphazardly type a scene, read it, and virtually wipe my nose with it before throwing it in the trash.

Writing after a day at work usually doesn't pan out so well, and I may very well be at a job site well into the night. My job isn't very stressful, but some of the tasks are menial, and tax my mind to the point that sometimes I have to walk away from it so I can look at it later with a fresh set of eyes. (I do custom system implementations and support.)

Sometimes I hit a wall, and can't think of how to progress a story. Sure I have a rough idea of certain events I want to put on paper, but getting from one to the next is occassionally a task in itself.

Sometimes, I'll sit down with a tiny nugget of inspiration and write for seven hours straight (noting that it's 3:40 AM right now where I live).



For me, the BIC, or 'Write x Hours a Day, or Sit There' method is a waste of a good x hours.

What's your experience with this method from a writing standpoint? Does it help you put words on paper/screen?

Butt in chair isn't enough. You actually have to write while your butt is planted there. Doing so is a choice.

I don't know where the "write six hours or sit there for six hours" comes from. Butt in chair means butt in chair and write, not butt in chair and twiddle your thumbs for however many hours. That's just pretending to practice BIC.

If you want to write while your butt is in the chair, you will. If you want to find an excuse for not writing while your butt is in the chair, you will.

I suppose there's an exception to every rule, but how much have you managed to sell by not practicing BIC?

To rewrite an old statement about democracy, butt in chair may not be perfect, but it's certainly infinitely better than any other method. If you want to be a writer, you write, and you do so early and often. If you don't want to be a writer, you find reasons not to write early and often.

Susan Littlefield
12-15-2010, 09:20 AM
Hi Arimak,

Welcome!


Butt in Chair - Does this method hold water?You bet! The only way for me to get any writing done is to sit down and do it. It doesn't matter when, where, why, or how; what matters is to make the time and just do it.


I would wake up well before dawn, make some coffee, drink said coffee, make more coffee, (by now, I'm starting to actually wake up), and sit in front of my screen... and sit... and sit. Sometimes I'd haphazardly type a scene, read it, and virtually wipe my nose with it before throwing it in the trash.

Writing after a day at work usually doesn't pan out so well, and I may very well be at a job site well into the night. My job isn't very stressful, but some of the tasks are menial, and tax my mind to the point that sometimes I have to walk away from it so I can look at it later with a fresh set of eyes. (I do custom system implementations and support.)I don't want to sound harsh, but these are excuses. You create the excuses not to write, you allow them to hold you back. I work a 7.5 hour job per weekday in the legal field, have an active life (tonight had dinner with a friend. I will get my writing time in before bed), and have two kids to hang out with (okay, they're not REAL kids, they're cats. :D). The point is, you have to make time to write.


Sometimes I hit a wall, and can't think of how to progress a story. Sure I have a rough idea of certain events I want to put on paper, but getting from one to the next is occassionally a task in itself.

Sometimes, I'll sit down with a tiny nugget of inspiration and write for seven hours straight (noting that it's 3:40 AM right now where I live).My only advice is to keep writing, keep putting those words on paper. Seven hours is a long time too- keep at it!

Oh, and I am one of those very strange people who truly believes setting a schedule to write is very important. Writing is the only way you will get a story down onto paper.

Good luck!

DancingMaenid
12-15-2010, 10:16 AM
Eh, I think it kind of depends for me. Finding the motivation to sit down and write has never been hard for me -- writing is one of my top ways of spending my free time, so it's not hard to sit down with the intention of writing and put in that time. My problem is more that I get easily distracted and have poor focus, and in that regard, yes, I find it very helpful to tell myself that I'm just going to focus on my writing for a certain amount of time or until I've written a certain number of words. Otherwise, for all my good intentions, I might end up playing solitaire or surfing the net and not get any writing done at all, even though I genuinely wanted to and knew exactly what I wanted to write. And if the story is going well, I can end up being very productive if I make a point to me.

However, if I've hit a snag and am having trouble actually getting any words out or deciding where to go with the story, trying to focus on it doesn't usually do much good. If I do end up writing anything, I'm usually not happy with it. Sometimes that's a sign that I need to take a break for a little bit.

shaldna
12-15-2010, 02:15 PM
i think the key is to think through what you are going to write before you do it.

i sit down and i KNOW what I am going to write because i've done the prep work in my head - while i;m walking the dog, or mucking out the horses, or cooking dinner. I'm thinking through what I'm going to write about and then when the time comes I can sit down and just type it out.

That's what works for me.

KyraDune
12-16-2010, 06:19 AM
It works for me. Even when I don't feel like writing, if I sit there long enough something will come out. It's not always good, but it's something.

bearilou
12-16-2010, 03:28 PM
It's worth mentioning that if you have major unresolved issues in your life, that can completely wall off your creativity. (Close enough to smell it, but not to actually touch it.) I went through a lot of years thinking that I had a writing problem, when I really had a life problem. As soon as I fixed that, all of the things that people had told me would work, actually started working.

I have only recently come to this conclusion, sadly enough. I am not where I can immediately fix the situation but now that I'm aware of it, I can take steps to mitigate the damage as much as possible.

So, to answer the OP's original question, for me, yes. I am not writing if I'm not BICing. I have a few tricks and tips tucked away in my toolbox to help me get past that dreaded "OMG WHAT SHOULD I DO I HAVE NO IDEA" stage when I first sit down so I find it easier to move past that.

Even if I only get one useable sentence/paragraph/page out of any session in writing, it's a productive writing day. I wouldn't even have that if I didn't get my BIC time in.

blacbird
12-17-2010, 12:25 AM
If your butt makes a big enough dent in the chair, yeah, it'll hold water. I did a lab test yesterday.

KathleenD
12-17-2010, 05:56 AM
I didn't recognize any but two of the names in the first page... and then I realized this was from 2008.

Now I'm wondering what became of the writers who didn't practice BIC.

Come out! Tell us how things are going!

Amarie
12-17-2010, 06:12 AM
Some days are indeed more difficult than others....

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y233/caopaux/Jessie3a.jpg

This is often my problem too.


What works for me is to tell myself I have to write 1000 words before I can do anything else. They don't have to be good words, they don't have to follow the last scene I wrote, they just have to be words. Most of the time I get into it and get down something that works. Other times I just have the characters talk to each other and find later I can use some of it. Same with descriptions of settings-most of it doesn't end up in the finished manuscript, but it helps me visualize.

Dave.C.Robinson
12-20-2010, 02:19 AM
Butt in chair - it may not be the only step, but it's usually a necessary first step.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
12-20-2010, 02:27 AM
It's what turned 'This Lesser Earth' from a WIP in my head to a finished novel in the hands of my agent. Yeah... it holds water. :)

Devil Ledbetter
12-20-2010, 02:35 AM
Unless one knows how to write a novel length manuscript while standing, walking around, folding laundry or watching television, BIC is the only way to go.

It's a good habit. As someone with a full time job, daily BIC is essential for me to get my WIP written and edited. If I just wait until I "feel" like it I am always going to find 900 other things I "need" to get done.

Margarita Skies
12-20-2010, 05:31 AM
It works for me. But it's not going to work for everyone.


Ditto. :Clap:

Raindrop
12-20-2010, 08:06 AM
Works for me. It helped make writing a habit. I don't have to wait for an elusive moment of inspiration to write anymore.

Anne Lyle
12-20-2010, 06:49 PM
To me, BIC is a general principle, not a strict rule. I.e. if I don't make time to write reasonably frequently, it won't get done and I'll be a wannabe, not a real writer.

True BIC, complete with scheduled writing time, only works for me on first drafts, when I just want to vomit ideas onto the screen. When it comes to outlining and revising, I have to take time out to brainstorm/daydream. Editing when mentally exhausted really is a waste of time, IMHO. Also, non-BIC activities such as walking or taking a long leisurely bath can help - but it's vital to follow them up with a BIC session, otherwise what's the point?

BTW, it sounds to me like the OP has a bad case of Inner Critic. In the words of Mur Lafferty:

You are allowed to suck.

Just write the damn thing, OK? Sometimes, sure, you'll write yourself into a corner and despair at finding your way back to the story. Sometimes RL will explode in your face and you have to deal with that first before you can concentrate on activities further up Maslow's hierarchy of needs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs). But complaining that you can't write because you stall every time you catch yourself using a cliche or clumsy prose is just chickening out. Sorry.

Margarita Skies
12-20-2010, 06:54 PM
I just fell in love with Cao Paux's cat.

bearilou
12-20-2010, 07:20 PM
I just fell in love with Cao Paux's cat.

IKR? I have to resist the urge to vacuum it.

Because.
12-24-2010, 06:19 AM
BIC works for me, but BiCaCOtI works better... (Butt in Chair and Cut Off the Internet). Seriously. If I'm in the mood for writing then the former works fine, but if it's a you-need-to-get-something-on-the-page kind of thing...I have to cut off my internet (with a simple button on my laptop) and tell myself I can't get back on until I get a certain amount of words.

Susan Littlefield
12-24-2010, 06:35 AM
Some days are indeed more difficult than others....

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y233/caopaux/Jessie3a.jpg

My cats, Buddy and Oliver, saw this picture and started to meow. Just like me, they think this cat is so gorgeous. Looks like a silver tabby? So darling!

katsincommand
12-24-2010, 06:57 AM
Kevin J Anderson dicates as he walks through hiking trails. Getting fit and writing... only I'm one of those klutzy types. The best I can do is plot while I'm on the cross trainer then get the ideas jotted down so I can BIC after the kids are in bed.

BIC still needs a plan, but it's a damn good place to start.

And agreeing on the silver tabby. :) Beautiful kitty.

izanobu
12-24-2010, 09:46 AM
That kitty looks like my bengal (only mine is red and black and cream, not a silver).

BIC is what works for me. I'm still a binge writer, but the more consistent I get, the quicker I improve and the more work I'm able to get out to market. I do a lot of my "pre-writing" while walking or taking a hot bath etc though so that when I do get into the chair I'm ready to go generally. But waiting for inspiration and then tinkering instead of writing got me 20 years of no improvement and very little actual writing done with no sales, so now I'm trying the BIC method and it is working a heck of a lot better :)

Libbie
12-24-2010, 10:25 AM
Well, I disciplined myself into writing a 110,000-word novel in three months using BIC, and then I got an agent with that novel. So it works for me.

shadowwalker
12-24-2010, 06:21 PM
The idea is that one sets a minimum time for writing or a minimum word count - and sticks to it. It has nothing whatsoever to do with feeling inspired or bringing on the muse or anything else. It means dealing with that 99% of genius instead of the 1%. Writing is work. You can't just go with the flow. Sometimes (many times - most times) you have to paddle.

Seriously - you use BIC because it makes you disciplined. That's the difference between playing around with writing and being a writer (IMHO).

Kweei
12-24-2010, 06:28 PM
I always hated BIC because I thought I only should write when inspired.

After I lost a bit of my ego and forced myself to sit and write, I learned that while I wrote a lot of crap I would later have to revise, in the long run I wrote more good stuff than I would have done if I had just waited and "gone with the flow."

So I tend to whine and mutter as I force myself to write, knowing that in the end I'm doing myself a favor.

This is all for me, of course. YMMV.

Phaeal
12-24-2010, 11:21 PM
Works for me. By doing it long enough, I've trained my Muse to come within an hour of being BIC-summoned.

But what I'd really like is one of these treadmill/computer desk hybrids that would allow me to walk and write at the same time. Sometimes the butt does get sore.

Kitty27
12-25-2010, 07:47 PM
It absolutely works for me. This method is how I am able to finish books and get a lot done on other projects.


A writer friend told me this awhile back and I have stuck to it.

scarletpeaches
12-25-2010, 07:48 PM
Your avatar is both 'teh shizzle' and a blatant attempt to distract me from writing so that you can take over the intertubes before me.

I KNOW YOUR GAME, HO.

Kitty27
12-25-2010, 08:13 PM
Your avatar is both 'teh shizzle' and a blatant attempt to distract me from writing so that you can take over the intertubes before me.

I KNOW YOUR GAME, HO.



BWHAAHHAHAHAHAHHA!


You can't control yourself when it comes to MY man!:evil