I just finished reading a book on writing, by the mystery writer Elizabeth George, called Write Away. I found it informative and inspiring. George is obviously a disciplined and thorough writer, of course I knew that from reading her books. Her recurring character is Scotland Yard DCI Lynley, and the crime series is set in Great Britain. The books are always long, involved and totally engrossing stories. One great nugget I took away from her writing book is the idea of “bum glue.”
I’m sure you can guess the meaning of the phase, for a writer it means sitting at the computer and staying there to write. Easy enough, right? Not when the ideas are coming slowly and the prose is getting tougher and anything and everything can be a distraction. I admit I struggle sometimes with just sitting and working. The dogs, the garden, a shopping trip, whatever the neighbor is up to, just about anything can get me up out of the chair and into something else when the writing it tough.
A phase George borrowed from an Australian writer is “he who possesses the best bum glue wins.” I have to agree with that. Sticking to the chair and working through the toughest spots makes a better story. The up and down, interruptions in the process, make for a disjointed story, at least as far as I am concerned. Bum glue for me can actually be research for ideas. Sometimes when I’m stuck, I go to a website with a collection of crime stories from around the country. Nothing may pertain to what I’m writing at the time, but often it’s just scanning the headlines that will get me rolling again.
Sometimes picking up a book like Write Away will also help. Often after reading a best seller you can come away with the idea that an author like George effortless crafts a novel in an afternoon because talent just oozes from every pore in her body. But after reading Write Away I’ve learned that she struggles too. Sometimes even with self-doubt. The difference? She keeps at it, keeps typing, and keeps turning out awesome books. That’s some powerful bum glue.