A friend of mine quoted Woody Allen to me recently: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” And I think it’s a perfect quote to inspire writers.
There’s another statistic that only a small percentage of the writers who start writing a novel finish it, and even fewer revise it, and even fewer polish it and query it.
Writing a novel isn’t easy, and writing a good or even great novel is harder. But there’s one thing that’s more necessary than anything else: Writing it. Sitting in your chair and typing in your computer or writing on your notebook. If you don’t write the first word, you can’t write the last.
My first novel took about three years to write. It was before I was writing every day. And in that three years, there were many times that I wondered if I was wasting my time, if the book was any good. But the truth is, it didn’t matter. All that mattered, at first, was that I wrote, word after word, day by day. The day I typed The End for the first time was soooo great.
Kirby Larson talked about something similar at the Austin SCBWI conference, offering writers the advice of “butt in chair,” to do the work and get it done. It’s good advice for all of us. That blank page can be scary, but the important thing is to fill it. The thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter how good or bad the writing is, because it will all be better after revising.
Here’s my advice: Choose one of these quotes, “butt in chair” or “eighty percent of success is showing up,” write it on a Post It and put it on your bathroom mirror. When you’re brushing your teeth in the morning, read it and make your plan of when you’ll write during the day. And when you’re brushing your teeth at night, read it and either congratulate yourself for writing or make a promise to yourself to do it tomorrow.
Now, where are my Post Its?
How do you keep on track with your writing?
I love this advice. “Butt in chair” really is the bottom line (excuse the pun). It’s so easy to be distracted by all that glitters that is related to publishing/writing, but the essence of our job remains the same. As writers, we must write. Thanks for the reminder.
Ha, love the pun, Karen. And it’s right. The actual step of getting published is obviously our goal, but it’s the smallest part of our job. Writing is the biggest, and to succeed in this field, I think you have to have a passion for it, that desire. Because you’re right, you have to keep your butt in that chair.