#7. Scheduled Pragmatism

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.”– Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

Schedule your dreams and they’ll show up. But the Muse will never give a damn about you unless you gave a damn about your time in the chair. Quit devouring screens to be entertained and lulled to sleep. Schedule your writing time and don’t let anything else get in the way, except other people’s screams. No, not even then.

The secret to writing a lot is writing a lot. The secret to avoiding distractions is avoiding distractions. Shut the door. Turn off your phone. Divorce Facebook and YouTube and ESPN and Amazon and…and…and…Sit down at the same spot every day. Sit down at the same spot every day. Sit down at the same spot every day. Set a timer. Start when the timer starts. Stop when the timer stops.

Of course you have to find what works for you. However, let’s stop lying or leaving room for excuses. If you think you can write with distraction you are wrong. Of course, what’s distraction to one is another man’s meditation. The point is, you can’t write if you are distracted. Get rid of what distracts you. If you can write with music on, more power to you. Then leave it on. If you can write in coffee shops, then more power to you. Go to the coffee shop. But if you can’t, then shut the door and write in silence. There is music in your words.

Sit down at the same spot every day. Keep a schedule of this. This is your sanctuary. This is your place of meditation. This is your place of deep inquiry. This is your place of refuge. This is your place of creation. It is important to discover your rhythms. It is important to find yourself in long stretches of silence. This is when you can be introduced to states of flow. This is when the Muse shows up. This is when you find your writing at its best. Of course, this includes rewriting.

If you don’t believe in rewriting your writing will never make a difference.

Serious writers have learned to go beyond the dream. They do not believe in Fantasia like magic. Mickey learned the hard way. The work of real writing can’t be avoided without sacrificing the work itself. If you find yourself talking too much about what you are writing, perhaps this is a good time to evaluate where you are. Why aren’t you at your desk writing? If you talk too much about your own writing, the need to write will become satisfied, and you’ll begin to be passionate about first drafts, or worse, you will be amazed at your own concepts. Don’t dazzle the world with concepts. They are pointless until they are fleshed out on paper, well past first, second, and third drafts.

When you are working on a project don’t leave it to die. Visit regularly. Put in the work. Treat it like a lady or a man you love. Treat it like a dog that needs feeding and regular walks. Treat it well and it will grow. Neglect it and it will run wild and choke. If you have to leave it for a time due to other demands, promise yourself you will get back to it. And mean it. Your future as an author depends on it.

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