Ass In Chair. Three little words that sound like a reprimand. Or a command from a disgruntled parental unit to “Sit your butt down and behave for a change.” They’re not. They are a gateway to greatness. Mixed with a cup of Time and a dollop of Chutzpah—okay, a lot of chutzpah—and you can Be, Do, Have all you want out of life. It’s up to you. And, “the secret” is…
Nora Roberts is one of the most popular romance writers in America. On average, she writes five books a year. Five best-selling books. When asked how she managed to be so prolific, she had one golden rule: “Ass in the chair.” In her interview with the New Yorker, she went on to say “People go, ‘Oh, you work six or eight hours a day, oh my God.’ ‘Well, yeah, how many hours do you work?’”
Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?
All she is doing is treating her creative ability like a job.
You know what? You could, too. In fact, if you want to get where you want to go—or, at least where you say you want to go—you’re going to have to do the same.
Dun-dun-duhn! (Insert “foreboding music” here)
Last week I worked on a blog post based off my notes from TOSOL #54 – “The Dark Side of Positive.” It wound up being more than 2,570 words. That’s a lot of frickin’ words for a blog post. I got curious, so I took said post and slapped it into book format—just to see what I was looking at. Nine pages (Eight and a quarter, really, but you have to use up nine to get there). Last week, I spent much of my time “ass in the chair.”
Charles, my co-host & producer for The Other Side of LIVE! asked me “Why?” Not only “Why,” but…“How?” He knows my schedule and that I don’t have much in the way of wiggle room when it comes to…well, anything.
In the beginning it was because I have coaches (yes, I have coaches) who tell me writing—books, blog posts, and other forms of written inspirational content—is necessary for my burgeoning speaking career. This content adds clout (or, “Klout” as the case may be). Couple that with the fact that this makes me a “triple threat,” if only in my own mind. In theater and film, you are a triple threat when you can act, dance, & sing. In media, social and otherwise, you can claim that moniker once you blog, vlog, & podcast. Guess which I’m sorely lacking in. Yup: the writing. Now, don’t get me wrong—I can write. It just takes me a while. There’s something to be said for the “one & done” ease that goes along with broadcasting talk radio live and/or shooting-from-the-hip video commentary. I luuuuuv it. The writing takes longer. At the very least, it takes me longer. First, I throw up on the page—getting all my ideas out there. Once that’s done, I have to go back and make everything palatable. Writing and rewriting, rewriting and more rewriting—until it’s finally complete…or, as complete as it’s going to be if I ever want to publish the little bastards.
That’s a whole lot of Ass In Chair.
So, is that my “Why”? Is that the reason I’m going to put in the man hours it’s going to take for me to become a blogger? Let alone, a blogger “of note”? In the beginning, yes. Hell yes. However, as I’m sure you know, this “Why” would not keep me writing for long. There has to be something else…right? No. Not necessarily. But, thankfully, there is something else. I’ve only put out two of these blog posts at the time of this writing, and I’m already receiving responses. Not only, but they’re from people who had never commented on my vlogs or podcasts.
I am reaching people.
I am making a difference.
In the end, that is what this is all about for me.
Helping Others Be Awesome!
This is my “Why.” This is my reason for hours upon hours of Ass In Chair.
Now for the “How.”
I maintain a very full schedule from week to week. At this moment, it’s around 1:30 on a Friday afternoon. On a day that I told myself I would “take it easy.” Use it as kind of a “day off.” And yet here I sit, tickling the plastics of my notebook keyboard. My to-do index card is full, but I want to make sure I clock an hour of writing before tackling any of the errands I told myself I might get to today. So, how does this work? With virtually no room for anything else, how do I fit something else in? How do you?
It’s all about Focus.
See, though I keep myself busy with all the “important” crap I’ve got going on, sometimes it’s just that….
Though I’m constantly working on things I need to do, they’re not all things I need to do. This is where the Focus comes in. Setting aside an hour (or more if I’m feeling adventurous) for writing means I’m specifically putting away the social media and phone calls and web browsing, no matter how work-related, as long as the timer is ticking away. (Yes, I have a timer that I use.) This allows me to concentrate and focus my attention on the things that are most important. Things that pull me and my career forward. Things that actually put me in touch with accomplishing my mission statement, Help Others Be Awesome, on a day-to-day basis. It’s the Focus that compresses all the fluff, gifting me with more time to do the things that matter most….
To my goals.
To my dreams.
This is often easier said than done. Last Monday, I wrestled with my writing time. Sitting in front of my computer, I did everything, but write. I updated statuses, checked emails, attended to a variety of menial tasks that, though I needed to get done, were not at all important to the task at hand—my writing. It wasn’t that I wanted to goof off either. Thoughts of watching television or playing video games did nothing to titillate me. I wanted to work, to be productive, but it seems that I lost my way somewhere betwixt the desire and its execution.
What the hell was going on?!
My “spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak.” (Matthew 26:41—paraphrased of course.) After discussing my “problem” with a teacher friend, I came to the realization that I had worked all weekend. In the summer heat—pouring out all I had for the entertainment of others. I was drained and didn’t even know it. My body, however, knew exactly what was going on…and it demanded that I chill. Have you ever had an extremely productive day, where you got bucket loads done? It felt terrific, didn’t it?! So good, in fact, that you couldn’t wait to hit it again the next day for a repeat performance of your awesomeness.
That’s not what happened, is it?
There was no awesome anywhere to be found.
It just picked up—leaving you high & dry, and taking whatever drive you had the previous day with it. That’s when television and video games and (*insert appropriate distraction here) become a lot more interesting.
Why is this?
You see, we as people follow certain rhythms. One day you want chicken for dinner, the next steak. Later in the week, sushi sounds good (actually, sushi always sounds good), and then hot dogs & burgers. The same is true for your work cycles. One day you’ll be running full tilt. The next you’re looking longingly out the window, daydreaming of better adventures…on a hammock in Maui.
Why bring this up?
Especially considering this is a blarticle about getting things done, why chatter on about body rhythms and not getting things done?
Because it happens.
Hell, it’s happening now!
The difference between last Monday and today is I’m not afraid of my restlessness. I know it will pass. After speaking with my friend, I decided to take a break. I emailed what I had written thus far and waited for her to get back in touch. Having been a teacher, she would be able to look things over and help point me in the right direction for the ending. In the meantime…
I watched television….
I played a video game…
I socially mediated….
And my body thanked me for it.
By the time my teacher friend got back in touch with me, I was ready. She gave me notes & ideas. I did the rest. At 1:30 in the morning, I finished writing “The Dark Side of Positive.” Exhausted and mentally drained, I felt great about what I had accomplished!
I am a writer.
Because I write.
Because I finish.
Because I sit down, “ass in the chair,” and write.
If there is something out there you have a passion for—something you want to Do, Be, Have—You are going to have to plunk yourself down and work your way into doing, being, having whatever it is. Nobody can do your exercise for you. (I really wish I remember who said that.). You have to do it. It’s your responsibility. This is your life. It’s up to you to make it a great one. Please do.
I dare you!