Of Mice, Cookie Jars, and Comedians

In case you’re wondering where I’ve been (you don’t spend your days combing through the archives?), I’ve been buried deep in my book. I almost made that crazy deadline I set for myself, though I did get some other stuff done, and now I’ve got my nose to the grindstone and am trying to make this happen. No news to report, as of yet, though I’m going to start the writing for the day in a few minutes and I have a sneaking suspicion today might be the day I finish that part I’ve been working on for so long. I can’t reveal anything, but it’s big. Pivotal. Not the apex of the story, but certainly the part where it all “begins”. Hmmm. Maybe I should’ve started here 80,000 words ago? Well, we’ll see.

Believe me, I’ve seen worse

In any case, I wanted to impart a little wisdom today to whet your writing appetite. Jerry Seinfeld, of all people, had some interesting things to say on the topic, and it seems that he—as well as Frank Herbert, Jack London, and Neil Gaiman, all agree: just sit down and do it. “This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until its done. It’s that easy, and that hard,” Gaiman said, and I think he knows what he’s talking about. 

It doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. Seinfeld actually tricked himself into writing, stashing cookies in his notebook. “An hour a day. That was my first goal. Ten hours a month. That’s not easy for someone starting out, and it took me a couple of years to accomplish. Sometimes I had to trick myself to get my­self to write. You wouldn’t believe the things I had to do to get myself to write. Sometimes I’d put the cookies by my notebook. It’s like a mousetrap — I go get the cookies, then I look in the note­book, and the next thing I know, I’m writing.

It’s encouraging to know that even for someone as wildly talented and successful as Jerry Seinfeld, writing was a struggle. Self discipline is about the hardest thing to muster up I’ve ever come across, and sometimes looking at my computer chair is like contemplating a coffin–confining, restricting. But the point is, he did it. And I’m doing it, and everyone has done it. Well, everyone who amounted to anything. So you can to. It’s a hard thing to learn but it must be done if you want to pursue your dreams. Anyone can go into an office and have someone tell them what to do. That’s real, those consequences are tangible. But if you skip your writing session for a day? A week? Who will know? Who will care?

You will, and you owe it to yourself and everyone who will eventually read your work to get it done. This may sound like a stern lecture, but I’m also talking to myself. It’s important to be reminded how essential a good work ethic is, and how much of getting a book written is just sitting down and doing it. It’s not magic, it’s just work. But don’t despair, you’re in good company. I find I’m rather like George R. R. Martin in that respect when he said, “Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.” Absolutely. I enjoy having written. But to get there, you have to write.

There, I feel better. Well, off to get some writing done! Have a good one folks, I’ll catch up with you soon.

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6 thoughts on “Of Mice, Cookie Jars, and Comedians

  1. This is really brilliant. I like that one line, “…much of getting a book written is just sitting down and doing it. It’s not magic, it’s just work.” Truth! My biggest feat is getting around myself. I’ve never been good at self-discipline, but I’m getting to a point in my life where I think, okay, something has to be done. I have this pull to write that has swelled with incredible pace in the last couple of days, and I’ve found myself not just wanting to write and unleash my creative brain, but to work, to be productive, and to produce quality writing. I’m glad to read that your manuscript is coming along. I’m getting ready to delve into a new writing project after a brief and swift NaNoWriMo fail. Good luck with the rest of your writing!

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    1. haha the reply is a little late, but thank you very much for your encouraging words. We are often our own biggest obstacles, and it takes a lot of patience and understanding to put up with ourselves and not get frustrated.

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  2. That is an excellent quote. Indeed, ’tis far better to have written than to be in the process of writing, though there’s merit to both. That’s the whole point of NaNoWriMo after all–to stop spending so much time fussing about plot and grammar, and just WRITE. This year wasn’t very successful, I only got 40,000 words into my post-apocalyptic non-romance novel, but at least those are 40,000 words that probably never would have existed if I hadn’t forced myself to sit down and spit it out.

    Carry on the good fight, fellow writer! You’ll finish that novel someday!

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  3. you consider 40,000 words not successful? That’s a tremendous accomplishment. That’s a third of a novel, proper form, and almost half of any respectable book these days. I’d say that’s well worth celebrating. I think my most productive month didn’t cap 15,000 words, so you’re a writing giant. Well done!!

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