January 6, 2011

The Crutch

Yeah, the last post was late but this one’s on time. So you get two in one week. Enjoy.

So I was talking with a friend of mine on Facebook a while back. For the record, I don’t recommend it. Facebook really has to stop creating new profiles every three months and try fixing a few actual problems, like their stupid chat system.
But I digress…
Anyway, he wanted to know how I manage to sit down every day and pound out a few thousand words. How do I exercise the self control to plant myself in front of my desk and write? Which is a fair question.
Which I will answer with a story…
About ten years ago I was working on an alien invasion film for the Sci-Fi Channel (back when they had executives who knew how to spell) and messed up my knee. I was running up a staircase with a case of props for the alien autopsy scene and twisted too fast on a stairwell landing. My knee actually made a bubble-wrap noise. End result– two and a half months of walking with a cane and popping pills (Gregory House eat your heart out) before I got in to have my meniscus rebuilt. On my 30th birthday. Seriously. And then three months of rehab after that.
I finally get back to full mobility and guess what happens less than five months later? The other knee gets damaged on a straight-to-DVD movie. This time it was three months of waiting for workman’s comp to schedule surgery. At least the cane was broken in by this point.
So, after almost a year and a half of sitting around doing nothing I had put on some weight. And when I say “some” I mean it in the same sense people say “the Bush administration could’ve handled things better.” To be blunt, I’d packed on almost fifty extra pounds.
Fortunately, an actor friend of mine knew I was trying to lose weight and shared a few tips. He also had a great personal trainer and shared his name and number with me. Jerzy–a former Olympic weightlifter– showed me a few exercises, but for most of those first two hours we just talked. And one thing became very clear.
There would be no hand-holding, no prodding. I would get the instruction book, the rules, and then I’d be left on my own for a month. This was all my responsibility. If I was going to lose this weight, the only person that was going to make it happen was me. Jerzy gave me his home phone number, his cell, and his email. “But,” he said with a shrug, “if you really need me to tell you ‘don’t eat the chocolate cake,’ you can’t be that serious about losing the weight.”
See where I’m going with this?
Y’see, Timmy, there is no trick to sitting down and writing. You just do it. If you’re serious about this, you shouldn’t need to find some clever way to get yourself in the chair every day. You should want to be there. The real problem should be getting you out of the chair.
I lost sixty pounds in fourteen months with Jerzy. And in about two weeks I’ll be starting my fourth novel. The publisher liked the idea so much he wrote up a contract and paid an advance just off my pitch.
If that’s what you want, do I really need to tell you to sit in the chair and write?
Next time, let’s talk about gods, super-aliens, and other omnipotent forms of existence.
Until then… go write.

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