Today is a ‘tie your leg to the desk‘ day. I have a plan laid out for a book that I’m writing, and today I am going to write quite a bit of it.
‘Tie your leg to the desk‘ is the best bit of advice I have ever been given as a writer. Yes: ideas, creativity, research, thinking, planning are all very important. But when it comes to writing a book, there is no substitute for actually writing. Once you’ve written something, then comes the hard bit – edit, edit, edit – but you can’t edit until you’ve actually got something down on the page.
Over the years I’ve met many people who have said to me ‘Oh, I’d love to write a book’, or ‘I’ve got a great idea for a book, I really must write it’. Perhaps some of them do go on to get it written and published, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s not many. Because sitting down and writing thousands of words takes a lot of time and effort. It’s not all about ‘flow’ or inspiration, it also involves a great deal of slog and hard work.
One of the biggest problems you face as a writer is what we call the ‘internal editor’. This is the creature that sits on your shoulder going ‘you can’t say that’ or ‘that isn’t very good’ or ‘why would anyone want to read that?’. If you listen to your internal editor, you don’t get a lot of writing done. You spend three hours writing and re-writing a single sentence, before realising that it is still no b****y good.
So, if you want to be a writer, then go ahead and tie your leg to the desk. Because it’s the difference between saying ‘I’ve got a great idea for a book’ and saying ‘Here’s a book I’ve written, I hope you enjoy it.’