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Monday, May 12, 2014

Input Means Output

One of the most popular pieces of writing advice in the modern era is to PUT YOUR BUTT IN THE CHAIR. Sit down. Write.

Make the time and write. Clear your schedule and write. All you need to do to write a book is to consistently sit down and add words to a manuscript.

And, to a point, I agree with this idea. Putting your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard is essential to successfully writing any story. Talking about it, dreaming about it, none of that will actually get the book written if you don't sit down and write.

But I feel that there's another key piece to the writing puzzle that's frequently left out.


No amount of sitting and staring at a blank screen is going to get a book written if you don't have some idea in the first place. In fact, much to many people's surprise, putting your butt in the chair and writing is the last step of writing a book (at least the last step to finishing draft one).

Before you can produce output you must have some input. A story can't be written in a sensory deprivation chamber. You can't lock yourself away. It's been tried. The results are uniformly depressing. Artists of any kind need input. They need experience. And not just experience at writing.

Authors need to get out of their chairs, turn off their screens, and live.

It's just as important as putting your butt in the chair to write. If you want to write a book you should be actively looking for new life experiences. Talk to strangers, visit new places, try new foods, pick up new hobbies. Ruts kills creativity. You can't do the same thing day in and day out without suffering when it comes time to write.

So get your butt out of the chair. Try something new today. Ask a stranger about their life story and really listen. Drive a new way to work. Do some cartwheels. And then come home, put your butt in the chair, and write the rest of your story.

1 comment:

  1. I heartily agree. Most of my drafting is done on the move. Stuck? Take a walk.This is also why I have a text editor on my phone, keep paper and pen in my pocket, and carry a digital voice recorder.