The Importance of B.I.C.
For writers, that stands for ‘Butt In Chair’. Or in other words, you’re writing. Your butt is in the chair, your fingers are on the keyboard and the words are flowing…
One always hopes for flowing words…but what if the words are just sputtering out like water dribbling from the end of a kinked garden hose? I’m not talking about the dreaded, full-on Writer’s Block but rather the in-between stage…the ‘I’ve got some ideas but I don’t know where to start’ stage…or maybe the ‘lately everything I write sounds like crap’ stage…or the ‘I’m tired but I’m still trying to write even though I’ve sat here for an hour and have written only two sentences’ stage…
Is keeping your butt in the chair ALWAYS the answer?
Some will argue yes. Some will say the only way you’ll get the writing done is to sit in that chair and push forward–and to that I say they are mostly right…
“You want to throw in a quote from The Princess Bride don’t you? The part about how being Mostly Dead means being Slightly Alive…”
As I was saying – some will insist the ONLY way to get the novel finished is to keep your butt in the chair and to that I say, they are mostly right. However, there are times where perhaps keeping your butt in the chair just isn’t the most productive way to get the novel finished.
“What?!? You sound like you’re contradicting yourself!”
No, I’m not. I’m saying there is ‘productive’ BIC time and ‘unproductive’ BIC time, and of the two (like anyone else) I’d rather have the productive kind and if it’s not going to be productive, I’d rather manage my limited free time wisely and accomplish something else.
Look. I’ll take today for example. Later, I’m working at the bookstore on my own for the first time. I should be fine. I know the job, but still, I’m a little nervous. I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully concentrate on writing today so instead of attempting to write, I hung drywall in the basement. True, I didn’t get any work done on either my new fantasy novel or my short story, BUT I did move forward on finishing my office where eventually I’ll have a little more peace and quiet and privacy to write and when I do have BIC time then, it will be (hopefully) of the more productive kind. So I traded away some unproductive BIC time today for productive BIC time in the future.
And if my foot were completely healed, I might have gone for a bike ride too. For me, bike riding is another trade-off for unproductive BIC time. It helps to clear my head and usually I can work out the writing problem better away from the computer and other distractions. Then, when I get back, often times the words are flowing again — thus creating productive BIC time. (plus, the exercise helps to keep the B in the BIC from getting bigger!)
“Okay….for a while there I thought you were advocating skipping out on your BIC time.”
No, not at all. I’m simply saying if you’re going to have BIC time, you might as well make sure it is as productive as you can. And to that end, this year, I’ve kept a log of my writing (BIC) time. With only a couple of exceptions, I’ve had a minimum of 15-30 minutes of BIC time EVERY day. Usually it’s closer to 1-2 hours with many days averaging 3-4 hours. Some might think that’s not very much…but besides writing, I am a stay-at-home dad of two children during the day and I drive at night. Recently, I added the second part-time job at the bookstore in the evenings after my wife gets home from work. So while it would be easy to use any of these other ‘jobs’ as an excuse to keep my butt OUT of a chair, I insist on having at least 15-30 minutes of BIC time every day. I just try to make sure it is productive BIC time…and so should you.
And just so you know, after work this evening, I will have some BIC time. Then I’ll take a nap before heading out again to my second job.
Have a great day–and make sure you spend at least part of it chasing your dreams!