“Doctor, this patient is suffering from excessive farting.”
“Pass me the bum glue, nurse.”
“We gave our last jar to the local airport, to fasten the wings on planes, doctor.”
“Too late, anyway, nurse. The patient has let loose a ripper. His hospital gurney just became a jet powered vehicle, and he has just shot through six wards, breaking the land speed record, a dozen windows and several bones.”
Bum glue has nothing to do with the brief fart-related scene above. So what is bum glue? Well, if you’re going to do some writing then at some stage the seat of your pants will need to meet the seat of your chair. Bum glue is the internal force that keeps you sitting in your chair, while you write.
Why is it an internal force?
Sometimes external forces can keep you sitting down and writing. For example you might be sitting an exam or you might be working at a job where your salary depends on your boss being able to see you sitting at your desk, writing reports on projected growth in widget sales. These are external things that are keeping you in your chair.
Now imagine that you are writing for fun. At any point in time you could get up and make a cup of coffee, or visit a friend, or shoot some hoops or go for a jog. The list is endless. The only thing that is keeping you in the chair writing is the power of bum glue, your own will to do it.
“This bum glue sounds wonderful stuff,” I hear you cry. “Can I buy it online? Will it be delivered to my door in discreet brown packages?”
Bum glue is a home grown substance. You develop it yourself. What you have to do is practice and build it up gradually.
The way I started was by setting aside ten minutes every day when I would not be interrupted. I would turn off my mobile phone, unplug my computer from the internet and sit down and write. At first it was hard. I had a timer set for ten minutes and I breathed a sigh of relief when it pinged. However, I kept going, and in a little while I began to look forward to my writing sessions. I then found that I’d be in full flow when the timer pinged and I’d ignore it.
At this point, we should have a soundtrack of inspirational music together with a video of me scribbling my way through a stack of paper, but it wouldn’t be true and not just because I type directly to my laptop. Some days the writing flowed and other days it was clunky and painful, but I stuck to my task and my chair. I was developing bum glue, the magic stuff that helps you stay in the chair when the going gets tough.
One discovery I’ve made is that on the days when the writing seems most forced and painful, often halfway through the session, I will stumble on something I want to say and the writing will take off. The sessions that start off the hardest often produce the most truthful and revealing words. Without bum glue, I would miss out on these insights.
Suppose, you’re now sitting with a blank piece of paper or a blank screen in front of you, ready to develop some bum glue. What do you do next? The short answer is that you write. The long answer is coming in my next blog, ‘What do I write about?’
A brief digression on writing posture
I mentioned in the article above that when writing the seat of your pants had to connect with the seat of our chair. “But Aldred, I write lying on my stomach,” I hear some of you cry out. “I mean what could be nicer than taking a rug to the local park, lying out in the sun and writing a page or two?”
I take your point. I’ve often dreamed of buying an extra long pencil so that I could lie in bed and write my next novel on the bedroom ceiling. Sadly, Mrs Chase objected to this idea. I did point out that Michelangelo had worked on his back when painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, to which Mrs Chase replied that if the Pope was offering to sponsor my next novel, she would reconsider her decision.
Anyway, you should feel to write in whatever position you find comfortable. The main thing is to be writing.