Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Writing Is Not A Mystery - Sit Down, John

(Second in a series.  If you missed the first one, click here.)

There is this moment in 1776, when John Adams is being a particular a**hole.

Normally, he's annoying, a pain, a cynic, a devil's advocate, a blowhard, stubborn, and many more words, not as diplomatic, but in this moment, he's being an a**hole.

This being a musical - the other members of the Continental Congress decide that the thing to do here, of course, would be to sing about it.  What else would a bunch of middle-aged, powdered-wig-wearing men of property do in this situation?

Lucky for us -- the whole song is on YouTube.  Please watch:

Writers can be a particular kind of  a**hole, too, sometimes.  Sometimes, they think the thing will write itself. (It won't.)  Sometimes, they think they'll write it later. (They might.)  Sometimes, they think the laundry is more important. (Usually not.)  Sometimes, they run out of sometimes and make more sometimes up.

But eventually, time runs out, and the thing is not written, nor the other things that might have flowed from it.  There is no finished script, no body of work, just a shoulderful of bad feelings about writing.

If you are a writer, you need to take the advice of the Second Continental Congress and  SIT DOWN.

What did Adams write when he finally sat down?   Thoughts on Government which formed the basis of the framework for many state constitutions.  He wrote the Massachusetts State Constitution.  Rich letters to his wife, Abigail, to Jefferson and to George Washington.  Not to mention essays, treatises, and speeches.

But Adams isn't the point here; sitting down is the point.

You gotta sit down.  Now and often hereafter.  Whenever you want to get up - think of the song.

And sit down!

(More on sitting down in the next installment.  Also, there's a resource list of recommended books on the Coaching/Consulting page.)

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