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Third Time’s the…   

No, it’s not a charm. It’s not even a fetish!

Hey, you! In the back. With the trap set. Yeah, you should take that thing on the road. No, really: get out.

To the meat: last time I finished talking about openings, which was all crafty, n’stuff. Two weeks back, I gave a bit of a precis on the War of Art concept of Resistance. Not the silliness related to a sitting president, but the impersonal, unidirectional force Steven Pressfield says is what prevents us from doing art.


In the first book (he divides his treatise into books in a conscious echo of Sunzi’s Art of War, with each book made up of aphorisms with minimal commentary) he discusses Resistance and lays out all the ways it interferes with our ability to get any-bloody-thing done.

In the second book, Mr. Pressfield lays out the solution: going pro. Anybody who wants to be a professional needs to act like one. In this, his book echoes every professionally successful author with whom I’ve talked. Larry talks about this in his excellent Ask Correia series, specifically Number 14. Our own Sarah has hammered on this any number of times in my hearing, as well as here at the MGC. If you’re going to be a professional, you have do as the professional do.

Mr. Pressfield starts even earlier than being a professional craftsman (as opposed to arteest) and pulls up the notion of the day job. Everybody has held down a day job of some kind. From burger flipper, to janitor (raises hand), to military vet, to hedge fund manager, everybody has spent some time doing something for somebody else.

And the other thing in common to all those day jobs was external strictures. Somebody else decided what you could wear, when you could show up and leave, what you were allowed to do on breaks and as distractions. As authors – or at least as writers on spec, as most of us tend to be – we’re sitting in both those chairs: the line grunt pounding out whatever product, and the boss who gives the orders.

As the boss, we get to set all of those restrictions. I know I’m lousy at this. I’ve just gotten to the point where I’m putting on pants (I know, I know, kilteDave putting on trousers? Heresy!) to work. And my timing is … spotty. I’m working on it. Himself’s pre-school schedule is helping. A lot. So clocking in and clocking out have a reason beyond making us miserable cusses. We hooman beans tend to work better with a solid routine.

As the boss, it’s our job to set those. As the grunt in the trenches, it’s our job to follow those. The boss says when we show up, and we do. The boss says when we’re done, and that’s when we knock off. The boss says when lunch is, though the stomach gets a voice in that one.

So, go pro. Do as the pro do. I’ll dig more into this as time goes on, but for now, I have to take the littles to the beach for fun.

  1. Butt in seat, write as if your life depended on it. Do it at a set time and then any other time you can shoehorn in. Repeat until done then go back and do it again and again and again.

    Other details can be fitted in as needed and between doing the major production of your labour I find.
    Today was my parent relief day and I have managed to hammer out over 2500 words. Still going as the Squire is napping before dinner. If I am lucky I can finish a chapter to plug into book one that was needed. Then off to Alpha reader for checking. It’s a hard life.

    May 1, 2018
  2. I set word counts as a daily goal. What else matters? Your book don’t give a wombat’s a55 how many hours you sit in front of your comp in a chair. After failing miserably to make 5K/day goals, (I use being a horrible, slow typist as an excuse) I now have determined to make 2K/day as a daily goal on my WIP. I have found that working on a pleasant fun, chapter makes that goal easy, while working on others (antagonist POV, where I have to Think Evile Thoughts) is more like digging a ditch, or making that long, slogging, forced march. My personal record is 10K words in one 24 hr. period.

    May 1, 2018
  3. In graduate school we called it “butt time.” Were you willing to keep your rump in that chair for as long as it took to do the research, then write the dissertation, articles, monographs, and more research? If not, grad school was most emphatically not for you.

    May 1, 2018
  4. Synova #

    I’m pretty sure I needed this today. Not so sure I wanted it, though.

    I’m really and truly horrible at being my own boss. I was self-aware enough to realize it when I was a mere 16 or 17 years old. “I’ll never get dressed!” *That* was a rebellion to the idea that everyone ought to want to be an entrepreneur and have their own business. It made no sense to me. I understood the ambition of being the one to own it all, I suppose. But if I couldn’t manage my own time for something like writing a paper for school, who was I kidding?

    The best thing about the military for me was the structure. I loved it.

    As a stay-at-home Mom I was driven by what the kids needed and when, and past that really wasn’t very good at providing them structure either.

    There are days I wish I didn’t have to go to work, now that I’m working. But working from home sure wouldn’t solve that problem!

    As for my “Home Job” of writing, I have one obligation that must happen and now, and various “voluntary” projects. The obligation I will likely never repeat. But the voluntary projects, the writing? I WANT to do those, so what’s my problem? Hum?

    May 1, 2018
  5. sam57l0 #

    I recall reading long ago that Stalin got to be STALIN because he had the iron butt. He sat down and worked all day, day after day after day. Got rid of those who didn’t work, and those who might be inclined to either try to ease him out of the job or kill him.

    May 1, 2018
    • Draven #


      May 2, 2018
  6. Heh, right now I am just happy to have found my way back to the computer and put down a couple hundred words a day in the past few days. Maybe the story will see the light of day outside my house, maybe it won’t, but I have fun when I do put butt in chair, hands on keyboard. ** Who would have thought that those pow-wows I went to 20 some years ago would come in handy today.

    May 2, 2018

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