The Ultimate Strategy for Putting Words on Paper

All successful writers share one strategy for productivity. It’s not a secret; in fact, it’s obvious. When I tell you what it is, you will think, “Of course, I knew that.” This strategy goes by the acronym BIC. Got it yet? Here it is: Butt In Chair.

I struggled this morning with BIC. I was writing the first draft of a story for Arizona Wildlife Views. It’s a feature article about California condors and the biggest threat they face: exposure to lead.

The story is not just interesting, it’s important. I’ve been researching it since January, so I have reams of background material. I have a good outline on paper, am engaged in the topic, and have a deadline to meet. All these things should, you might think, add up to a successful morning of writing.

Still, I was having a tough time keeping my BIC this morning. I wanted to pour another cup of coffee, check my Blackberry, pet the cat, return phone calls, clean my office … anything but sit there and type.

What was causing the block? I paused to consider it. Eventually, I noticed how pressured I was feeling. Somewhere along the line, I’d decided that if I wrote the story well enough, and chose my words carefully enough, people would be persuaded to change their opinions and behavior, and the condors would be helped.

That’s a lot of pressure to apply, and in my experience, pressure like that doesn’t produce the most relaxed writing. Silly me. It was time to let myself off the hook for producing the story that would save condors from extinction, and just write. So I started typing about what I knew—the story of one condor, SB#122, which was treated for lead exposure earlier this year.

As I began reporting the story, my fingers started flying. By the time I broke for lunch, the rough draft had reached 2,100 words. By 3 p.m. I had a finished first draft at 2,400 words. All that, simply by obeying the BIC rule; that, and letting myself off the hook just a little.

I’ll talk about what happened to that draft in my next post. In the meantime, here’s a video to get you excited about the issue of saving condors from lead exposure.


2 thoughts on “The Ultimate Strategy for Putting Words on Paper

Add yours

  1. Wonderful insight and observation and delightfully funny. I will remember the BIC rule the next time I’m faced with editing something I truly care about. Thanks!

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