My Style of BIC

Writers have a standard response for other writers when they whine about not getting enough done, or about how hard it is to find time, blah blah. It’s called BIC. Butt in Chair. The general rule of thumb (or the most common rule I’ve heard anyway) is that you must have BIC two hours a day to make it a habit. If you can put your BIC at roughly the same time every day, even better.

When I lived in Mexico I tried really hard to abide by that guideline. I didn’t have much of a social life, so aside from the occasional trip to the grocery store, there wasn’t much standing in my way. Now that I’m working full time I’m trying to find a new regular time. Lunch seems to be working, but I know that’s not something I can do every day, so I’m going to have to be flexible. This past Friday I edited after going to dinner with my parents.

Whatever works.

Which brings me to my point. Those two hours? Yeah, they don’t work for me. I’ve found that I work better with a tangible goal, rather than a period of time. I tend to write quickly — I can bang out 1000 words in under an hour if I’m on a roll — so forcing myself to sit at the computer for another hour is not a good use of my time.

Same goes for editing. Right now I have a small daily goal that I’m doing my best to stick to. It’s low enough that I can easily surpass it, but high enough that I’ll actually finish this draft before the snow hits the ground. (My deadline is a little sooner than that.) Yesterday I went over my goal in about an hour, and recognized the restlessness that comes when I’ve had enough. Yes, I could sit there and stare at the computer screen for another hour, but when my mind checks out, I’m lucky if I get through another page.

What I’ve realized happens when I DO force myself to sit there is I lose that sense of accomplishment for having reached (or surpassed) my goal, and instead walk away discouraged because I didn’t produce anything that last hour. So instead of feeling positive about the work I did, I’m unhappy and not looking forward to my next session.

That’s not a good way to go about things. Writing and editing is hard enough, I don’t need new crazy ways to make it harder.

So, from now on, when I reach that point when my head is telling me I’m done, I’ll try for another five or ten minutes, then allow myself to stop. By doing that I may actually see the end of this draft.

Have you made any realizations about your writing style that you’d care to share?

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24 Responses

  1. I think that’s great. You’re sticking to your goal, but it’ll work to your benefit not to force yourself beyond that, too.

  2. I have a daily target of 1k words. Some days I surpass it (yesterday I managed 5k, which is my record), and some days I don’t come close to it.

    If, on those days that I don’t feel productive, I force myself, I have no sense of accomplishment, and begin to resent my writing. Not good. ;)

    Butt In Chair is all well and good, but if my butt doesn’t wanna sit, it usually has a good reason.

    Adam

    PS – Check it out, I was serious in a Hoo post!

    • Adam, I can’t believe you were serious! But you were probably just overly tired from all that writing yesterday. I’ll give you a pass.

      • You are a truly generous midget.

        Adam

      • Mm-hmm.

  3. Writing for me is a hobby and a diversion. I like doing it when the inspiration strikes, but I don’t want it to be ‘scheduled’. Once that happens, I’ll drop it and leave it by the curb. When I hear about these ‘writing rules’ like BIC, I get a little defiant. “Who are you to tell me how to be creative?’ Writing is one of my creative outlets. When the urge strikes, I sit and write. I think sometimes I have just as much fun dreaming up ideas then actually putting pen to paper. But then, I don’t plan on making $$ or becoming famous. As I mentioned earlier, writing is ONE of my creative outlets. My career goal is one that incorporates ALL of my creative outlets. ;)

    Writers are as individual as thumbprints and readers are even more diverse. Writing isn’t a ‘do this not that’ type of thing. If it was, there wouldn’t be any creativity involved with it. Just plug in the appropriate words in the allotted amount of time and done. Pffft! How boring!

    Glad you found what works for you!

    • Jen, I love your attitude. I’m like that with some of my other hobbies, but writing is definitely something I want to pursue. I love the time I get to spend copyediting at work and would love to find a way to have that be more of my daily job.

  4. *peek-at-hoo*

    I have no problem of putting my butt into a chair. It’s turning off the social media attention whores and opening up a WIP. I also do a word count goal as opposed to an hourly rate because when I’m in the zone I can easily do a couple K an hour.

    Great post. You go girl!

  5. I also do better if I set a word goal rather than a time goal. I’ve found that if I do a time goal, I spend my time staring at the screen and check out the minute the clock says so, even though my work isn’t done.

    But a word goal – that I can do. Cause then I’m working towards something tangible. I just need to get back into that now…

    • Yeah, I tend to watch the clock too (*snerk*) which is yet another reason why I think this plan will work better for me.

  6. I feel like I’m finally just getting a handle on writing 8 hours a day. After a year. I know, pitiful. But it’s sort of hard to focus that long on creating, I think.

    • I can’t imagine writing for eight hours. My brain would turn to mush.

  7. Lately, I’ve been writing in spurts. A bubble of calm appears in my evening, I’m not too tired, and I try to hop in and take advantage. I’m going to try tonight after the gym. My jiggly fat must be dealt with first.

    • ROFL, jiggly fat vs bubble of calm. Those phrases both make me laugh. Good luck. :)

  8. Doesn’t the roll get squished when you’re on it for an hour or so?

  9. The day job takes precedence because I like it. It also puts food on the table and keeps the house warm. Plus, I do a fair amount of writing at the day job; emails, op-ed columns, news features and more. So, there’s something to be said for that. I’ve also got a 4-year-old daughter. I like to spend time with her. So, that tends to occupy a good chunk of evening time.

    So, usually the only two hours available are between 9-11 p.m. However, my wife still speaks to me. Regularly. And she likes me. So, that tends to be her time, until she falls asleep. So, really, if I’m BIC by, say 10 p.m., hooray. However, I’ve also got a new goal to be in bed by 11 p.m. (vice 1 a.m., which has been consistent for almost a year)

    I find, like you, that I can steal time at lunch and on break to carve out a few hundred words.

    PS, I took your lead and plodded through lists and interactivity last night; managed to get a lot done with facebook and it only took about two hours with 700+ people. Here’s my take on it: http://www.jasontudor.com/2010/07/27/a-writers-guide-to-interactivity-and-privacy

    • Jason, I LOVED that article! Everyone, go read!!

      I think you have the right idea when it comes to a schedule. That’s more or less what I try to follow, except I don’t have the wife and kid part.

  10. Stephen King once said he writes 10 pages a day. If it take from morning till night he still sits there. If he finishes those 10 pages by noon he takes the rest of the day off. Unless of course he wants to keep writing.
    I like his goal. I think 10 pages is a more tangible goal than a time limit.

    • I agree. (and I think I’ve read that about him) Giving a time limit makes it feel like school. I was always quick to finish my work, so it feels more like punishment, where I should feel happy when I’ve reached my goal. That does it. No more time limit and no feeling guilty about it!

  11. I can do about six hours, if I’m on a roll. I also tend to get huffy about the whole “BIC” thing. It depends, though. I know when I’m truly uninspired versus being plain lazy. On the lazy days, I do force myself to write something. On the off days, though, I read, or do housework. Usually the drudgery of reality opens up my mind and sends me back to my chair pretty quickly.

    • Avery, I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. One thing I always forget is I blog three times a week, plus now I’m writing for work, and I have a journal, so it’s not like I’m not outputting on a regular basis. As long as something keeps the creativity flowing, I’m good.

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