Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Writing Life: The Math EquationThat Determines Success as a Writer

by Kemble Scott

Lots of people aspire to write books, but not everyone can get the job done.

As I've traveled to Book Passage and other venues to talk about my debut novel SoMa, I'm often asked about my "writing process." Author K. M. Soehnlein told me it's one of the top three** questions all writers are asked when they are on tour. Karl was right.

Turns out, the "writing process" can be demystified by a simple mathematical equation. I can't recall who first passed this brilliant analysis along to me, but it is undeniably true.

It's called The A/C Ratio.

A = Ass

C = Chair

Yup, it's that simple. The more time you spend with your Ass in a Chair in front of a keyboard, the more likely you are to write something. ☺

When I was single, I used to write at home. My A/C ratio was very high. Then love struck and I was no longer alone with my Ass and Chair. I soon discovered that I needed to "go to work" in order to get back into the writing groove. That meant leaving my home and setting up shop somewhere else.

I didn't have a quiet, sacred spot to write. Mostly I'd go to busy cafes, and sometimes the library. But there was something incredibly motivating about putting my laptop and notes in my backpack, and hauling my Ass to a Chair where the expectation was to write. It was like I was going to a real job, which (of course) writing a book is.

These days I do my work at a writers' grotto in San Francisco. What the heck is that? I'll take you there in my next posting...

**The other top two questions I get are: What's your social security number? What's your mother's maiden name?


Kate Douglas said...

I've never heard of the A/C ratio, but then I work under the BICFOK rule--butt in chair, fingers on keyboard. Same process, different acronym. I live in a rural community where I don't have access to serious writers groups. I do, however, have an office on the top floor of the house which requires a lot of stairs--once I'm up here with my butt planted firmly in my recliner, laptop in position, I know I am supposed to be writing. It must work--I'm almost finished with the fifteenth book in my series, all written since mid-2005. When people ask my what my process is, I tell them it's a combination of stubbornness, dedication, and an absolute love of the process. When you truly love what you do, writing isn't a job, it's a joy.

joshua said...

i actually first heard that (a/c) said by harry crews probably 15 years ago, third hand. and it really isn't any simpler than that. anything is life takes discipline to succeed, art is no different.