My writing group promotes the butt-to-chair philosophy, which is basically this — sit your butt in a chair and write. A simple thing really, yet it’s difficult to pull off if you’re stuck in the swamps of life, or if you prefer a happier image, the amusement park of life, where we rush from one activity to the next.
Job —> School —> Kids —> Pets —> Friends —> Family —> Church —> Housework —> Insert hectic activity of your choice.
Is there time left to write? Personally, I think we all go through phases and some periods are better for writing than others. It drives me bonkers when people say things like, ‘If you really wanted to write, you’d carve out the time and if you can’t find the time, it means you don’t want it badly enough.’ Obviously these people are at a good place in their life. They’re not taking care of sick family members or stretched so thin they think they’ll snap any day. And I’m happy for them. But when they advocate waking up at 5am, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they aren’t taking care of small children because that’s what time we crawl into bed. Right. Before I go off on a side rant . . . I think we can all agree that when we do find those golden moments of time, however and whenever we find them, it all starts with sticking our butt in a chair.
You’d think butt to chair is an individual philosophy, and for the most part it is, but it’s a social activity, too. My writing group typically meets for one butt-to-chair session at a downtown library and one at a bar almost every week. Unfortunately, I’m usually not able to attend either. So I spend my butt-to-chair sessions working on my novel, in the company of my cat and dog. And I realize how lucky I am to be able to do that some days. The pets don’t write (and I have no desire to be the creepy lady on the first floor who spent the last fifteen years of her life trying to teach the cat how to write), but the cat, who obviously owns everything in our home, gets a little too excited about joining me and takes over the keyboard.
In addition to the standard meetings, occasionally we have impromptu butt-to-chair sessions during the weekend. And sometimes, if everything lines up perfectly and the kids are happy, whatever weekend plans we made are flexible, and my husband isn’t working, I can make those. Like the one we had this past weekend at a fellow writer’s home. My husband kept the kids occupied while I went off to drink coffee, chat with other talented writers, and write.
Here’s why I love these sessions: they are so darn inspiring because we feed off each other’s energy and when you add a fika break (if you don’t know what fika is, click here for a helpful post), I can’t imagine how it could get better than that. I also like these impromptu meetings because I can’t lug around all my work for the novel, which means I get to work on smaller pieces like poetry, flash or short stories and that feeling of finishing a story is refreshing after spending so much time on a longer project. Despite the caffeine high that kept me up most of the night, I ended up completing a short story and started a second! A great start to the week.