Sometimes people ask me how I write.
My stock response is “ass in chair.”
Phillip Roth said that the real reason writers want to know other writers’ methods is to find out whether they’re as crazy as they themselves are.
I’ve always been curious for more pragmatic reasons.
Here’s a piece of my method.
Every day, when I start work, I open a document I keep on my desktop, called TOMORROW.doc, along with whatever doc I’m going to be working on. I keep TOMORROW.doc open the whole time. Basically, I use it as a scratch pad, a clipboard for cut sections (many of which make their way to the folder CUTS, never to return), and a way to keep track of where I am in the main document. Pretty standard stuff.
But here’s the thing that makes it work for me: When I reach the end of the writing day, I write myself a note at the top of TOMORROW.doc, a note I know will be the first thing I read at the start of the next writing day. Part of the note–it’s been there a long time–is always the message: “Be patient. You have time.” But the rest of it changes from day to day.
Does it feel silly to write to my future self?
Yes, it does.
Even sillier than answering my own questions.
And yet TOMORROW.doc does everything I need it to do. It’s not enough to have the ass in the chair. With the ass in the chair I can tweet, FB, Scrabble, email, all that junk. It’s ass in chair, eyes in document, head in work. And for me, nothing gets the creative juices flowing like orders from headquarters.
Shit, nobody else is going to tell me what to do. That’s why I picked this job.