Writing Mantra: “Writing equals butt on chair”

Or does it really?

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Writing equals butt on chair.

I’ve seen this one attributed to Oliver Stone. A more poetic version:

Writing equals derriere on chair.

Fundamentally I agree with it. Then again, I don’t.

Yes, at its core, the act of writing requires that we move our ass from the barcolounger into the chair at our writing station. There are times when we dread the idea of writing so much, transporting said ass the approximate 100 feet or so onto said chair feels like rehearsing the final scene from Dead Man Walking.

You know what I’m talking about.

And yet understanding how important the prep-writing part of the process is — brainstorming, developing characters, plotting, research, and all the rest — somehow reducing writing to butt on chair seems a bit off.

When we drive around town, we can be working on our story.

When we peruse books in the library, we can be working on our story.

When we’re taking a shower, we can be working on our story.

When we’re hunched over a stack of 3x5 inch index cards with scenes scribbled on them, we can be working on our story.

When we stare out a window lost in thought, we can be working on our story.

Not to acknowledge the importance of all that is to diminish the value of prep-writing.

So for the first time, I’m going to suggest a revision to a mantra:

Page-writing equals butt on chair. Prep-writing is everything else.

For more writing mantras, go here.

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