WIP: Butt In Chair

Maybe I have found the secret. Or one of them, anyway.


The day began as has become habit: rise late, miracle morning routine, meat of the day spent with my favorite little girl ever. In the evening, however, I decided to make a change. And, in doing so, I may have found the final key to everything.

The Secret

Common wisdom among productive writers is that the number one key to getting things written is keeping your butt in the chair. Butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. That really does get 90% of the work done. So what has been my problem? Well, that’s a longer story.

When I was first figuring out the writing gig thing (as I thought of it then), I wanted everything to be like a “real” office: big desk, office chair, bookcase of reference books at my side, phone, printer, everything. This arrangement did work for getting some work done, but, looking back, I can see that my biggest problem was that I didn’t really know what the hell I was doing, from either a writing or a business standpoint. It reminds me of the mock-inspiration poster that said something like: “When you genuinely believe that effort and attitude can make up for a lack of knowledge and skill, there’s no limit to what you can’t do.” I’ve always loved that one. Funny I didn’t see how it applied to me.

When I became a proponent of simplicity, this elaborate office space bugged me, and when I discovered people online living the “laptop lifestyle”—starting and running businesses from anywhere in the world with no dedicated tools beyond a laptop and a cell phone—I loved the idea. I still love it. What powerful freedom! Within a few months or years, I had talked my wife into downsizing, and my office had been reduced to my laptop, my computer, and a seat at the dining table or the couch or reclining on the bed or whatever.

For a while, I thought that worked. That formula did work for finishing five books, writing at least two from start to finish, and mapping out several more.

However, when I’ve paid attention, I’ve seen that I’m not as productive as I should be. In the time I’ve had to actually work uninterrupted, I should have completed at least a dozen more books. Really.

A year or so ago, when I was doing a temp job in a real office, I noticed how focused and driven I became when I sat in a real, good, office chair. And it wasn’t a one-off thing. It happened every shift, pretty much independent of how rested I felt or distracted I should have been. Desk-in-name-only + good-enough computer + good, comfortable office chair = high focus and productivity.

In our new apartment, I set up a regular office space, with a folding bookcase, portable camping table for a desk, and my good-enough computer, but I wanted to use an ordinary chair, to keep everything portable and easily replicated. Unfortunately, a regular chair isn’t comfortable to work at, and is uncomfortable after only a few minutes. Worse, that’s the arrangement I used when I wrote Zombies Versus Comicon last year, and after several long days my legs felt weird, and by the end I was pretty sure the experience had caused or exacerbated sciatica. Not fun.

So, I’ve been thinking that a real, comfortable, office chair might just be the missing element to real productivity. And even if it wasn’t, if I want serious, productive butt-in-chair time, and I do, then I should get one.

So, little girl in tow, I went looking, first in thrift stores, then in ordinary retailers, and finally in Staples. I found a good one, brought it home, put it together, and …

It was like freaking magic. Sitting in the chair in front of the computer gives me exactly the boost of focus and even energy that I hoped it would.

I’m expecting big things.

Vampires Versus Comicon

 [Cover of Vampires Versus Comicon: A Novel by T.F. Torrey] Late at night, I turned my new focus to Vampires Versus Comicon, and it went really well. I’m still in the opening chapters, and balancing the exposition necessary to understand the setting and situation with the action necessary to move the story and keep things interesting is a challenge, as always. In the past, the additional exposition needed has made the beginning chapters longer than the ending chapters, and that trend is holding for this book. With some good butt-in-new-chair time, however, the opening chapters will soon be in the rear-view.