Practicing the art of "Butt in Chair."

4:06 PM

I don’t know if the muse is going to show up on any given day, but by golly, I’m going to be at my desk every day from 8 to12 every morning in case she does.
-Flannery O’Conner

One of my favorite books on writing is Page After Page, by Heather Sellers. It’s a great book for beginners because it focuses on finding the courage and commitment to start writing and keep writing.

When asked what her single best piece of advice was for the beginning writer, Miss Sellers said, “Butt in chair.”

“The concept of “butt in chair” is an old one: You have to stay in your chair. You can’t do laundry. You can’t clean things. You can’t take a bath, a shower, a walk. You sit in your chair. Whether or not you are writing”

Miss Sellers asks, “Are you willing to put up with a lot of (seemingly) wasted days, a lot of staring, a lot of being quiet by yourself? That’s what real writers do. That’s what you have to do. Practice the fine art of Butt in Chair.”

Butt in Chair only works though if you actually spend that time writing. That means no checking Facebook, just for a couple of minutes. No tweeting about how you’re sitting down to write, and then spending an hour commiserating with other writers over how hard it is to do just that.

Allot a certain amount of time to writing and then commit to to getting the writing done. Even if it’s just for ten minutes. Use a timer if you need to. Work your way up to fifteen minutes, then thirty. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t do it right away. It’s hard to concentrate for that long, so it will take lots of patience. You are practicing concentration. If you concentrated, call it a job well done. If you didn’t, that’s okay, because you’re just practicing. Practice again tomorrow.

How are you at practicing Butt in Chair? 


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