What does Butt in chair mean?
A bit of writing advice you’ll see a lot is, “Butt in chair!” But what the heck does that mean? I can do a heck of a lot of things with my butt in a chair that have nothing whatsoever to do with writing! I also do a fair amount of writing without my butt in any kind of chair at all between dictation and my standing desk.
The following is an adapted excerpt from Building a Writing Life: start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams available now in paperback and eBook.
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The expression Butt in Chair means you have to show up. Spend the time you set aside for writing actually writing and not checking Facebook or taking the perfect #amwriting selfie. Practice butt in chair habitually if you want to improve and make progress.
If this is a struggle, there are a lot of apps and browser extensions available to help you focus. Distraction blockers like StayFocused or Freedom let you block sites you know are distracting, or the whole dang internet, so you have no choice but to write. Other apps, like Forest, reward you for resisting the urge to look at your phone or browser. But low tech options, like a simple egg timer, writing in a paper notebook or just switching off the wifi/data on your device, work too.
Elsewhere, I talk about the myth that writers must write every day and, spoiler alert, I don’t believe in it. I write a TON and I sure as heck don’t write every day. I think it’s much more important to write regularly than to worry about writing every single day.
That said, last summer, I took on a daily writing streak challenge for a few months because I was in a funk and needed something to kick me back into gear. And, while daily for me meant I stayed up late and wrote on both sides of midnight so I only had to write every other day, I still discovered something amazing. I got a whole lot written that summer.
Turns out, if you write more often… you get more writing done! Mind-blowing, I know, but it turns out that more time writing apparently equals more words. I mean, who knew, right?
But while this revelation may seem painfully obvious, it’s worth mentioning because sometimes we all fall into the trap of thinking magic elves will work on our story when we’re away from it. Regular writing, even if it’s only a bit at a time, will mean steady progress, and that moves you ever closer to your writing goals. But to do that you’ve got to keep showing up, ready to write, with your butt in chair.
Butt in chair is about committing to whatever writing regularly means to you. It’s about setting a schedule, sticking to it and making sure you spend all of that allotted time actually writing. And when you do that, you’ll see an immediate change in your writing skills and process.
Not to mention, get a heck of a lot more writing done!