Basics Productivity

How to Keep Your Butt In the Chair (When Everyone Wants You Out of It)

Do you want to accomplish your writing goals? According to one of the websites I frequent, it won’t happen unless you maintain some BIC time (Butt In Chair).

It may sound simple but many writers fail at this because work, family, friends and adult responsibilities keep pulling them away.

Here’s how I keep my BIC time, and how you can, too.

Create Your Own Deadlines

Some people are energized, motivated, and invigorated by deadlines. Even though they can produce a little stress (oh no, I’ve only got a week left!), deadlines are a good thing. They stop people from procrastinating. If you went to college you most likely had a ton of research papers to turn in. There was always a deadline you had to meet. And if you work in the business world, you’re probably used to deadlines, too.

Writers can also benefit from deadlines.

Sometimes you will have a definitive writing deadline, such as a contest’s last call for entries. There’s no way you’re going to miss that.

But what if you don’t have a concrete deadline, and you still want to get that novel finished?  Simple. Make up your own deadlines.

It’s important to make them achievable. To stay on track, one thing you could try is choosing someone to be your accountability buddy to help you respect these deadlines.

Dress For Work

After coming home from the day job you probably want to shed those work clothes and throw on something loose and comfy, maybe even your pajamas. Resist that temptation for a moment. There’s something about business-style clothes that makes a person feel sharp and ready for work. It’s worth a try to see if it makes you feel more productive. As an added bonus, it signals to people that you’re in work mode and should not be disturbed.

Give Yourself Rewards

Everybody likes rewards. When a child cooperates at the dentist, you might take him to the park or the zoo to celebrate his good behavior. Why shouldn’t grownups enjoy the same?

In the writer’s case, you promise yourself a little reward for finishing a specific number of manuscript pages or for working a specific number of hours, or for editing a long scene.

It’s important to be specific about your reward. Don’t leave it at “I’ll do something nice when I finish the chapter. “ Plan it to the last detail. Treat yourself to a latte, a nice snack, a long bath, a walk around the neighborhood—whatever tickles your fancy. By fantasizing about it in detail, your brain will be all fired up to achieve it.

Also, as soon as you achieve one goal, set another one, and a new prize.  Don’t lose momentum.

Hang a Sign on the Door

If you share your home with others, you may need to establish a private writing space. Unfortunately, family members don’t seem to comprehend that writing is actually a form of working, and that you shouldn’t be disturbed.

Spell it out for them.

You can go as far as putting a sign on your door that says, WRITER AT WORK, ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK! Or maybe just the standard DO NOT DISTURB!

Learn To Say No

Popular television psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw says people have power over their reactions. He is known for saying, “You need to teach people how to treat you.” This piece of advice is especially good for writers. Always saying yes to people means you’re sacrificing precious writing time. Don’t be afraid to draw your limits and make others respect them.

It’s not easy keeping your Butt in the Chair when there are constant distractions. But by following some of these tips you might just be able to keep it there!

About the author

Kathryne Lee Tirrell

Kathryne Lee Tirrell

Kathryne Lee Tirrell is a former staff writer and editor for Paramount Cards. Her non-fiction work has appeared in Writer's Digest Magazine, Rhode Island Prime Time and Several essays have been published in Woman's World and Stories of Strength, and she sold a children's story, "Maxwell Mouse, the Powerhouse" to Humpty Dumpty's Magazine.

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