July 3, 2016

The ABC Method of Writing

ABC = Apply Butt to Chair.

In other words: Sit down, and stay down.

This method is the only thing I’ve ever tried that’s worked. I can’t guarantee it will get you results, but you’re pretty much guaranteed to get no results if you don’t ABC.

It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Sitting down to write is difficult enough. Even harder is remaining seated. You have to sit there, staring at the blank page, for at least an hour. Sit there, unable to come up with anything. Sit there, and if you manage to get a few words out, you quickly delete them all. Sit there, getting more and more frustrated, getting farther away from what you wanted to say. Sit there and decide it wasn’t worth saying anyway. Sit there and wait for something else to say.

This is the hard work. Not getting up. Not looking away from the page. Not distracting yourself with texts or food or social media. Just sitting and concentrating.

In my intensive one-day writing class, I ask people to do some timed writing exercises. Many of them spend the first 33-50 percent of the time fidgeting and looking miserable, then they start writing. Then, when the time runs out, they’re still writing. And I’m like, “Ha! See? You thought you couldn’t write anything, and then you just wrote something. So, do that eight thousand more times.”

And every time you do it, remember, you’re going to sit there and stare at the page and feel the frustration. But that’s the only way you’re going to get to the other side of it.

I mean, unless you take speed.

(Note: If you have a standing desk or a treadmill desk, a) that’s cool, I hear those are really good for you, and b) obviously you can’t sit down, per se, so, you know…stand down.)


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