a** in the chair

Illustration: Jen Troyer

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How does Nora Roberts, the queen of the romance novel, write five books a year? She never has a bad day, her muse is a body builder and writing books is just supereasy. Okay, fine, not really. In a 2009 New Yorker interview, Roberts divulged the secret to her near-unparalleled productivity: "Ass in the chair." You sit yourself down, and you Just. Do. It. And when things are bad, and the work you have to do seems undoable, remember that half the battle is staying present. The only way to get the work done is to do the work. You grit your teeth. You stay in the chair. You do it. After all, it's not coal mining. And if it is, well then, just tell yourself, at least it's not teaching seventh grade. (And if it so happens that you're teaching seventh grade in a coal mine, well, then we salute you.)