Saturday, April 2, 2011

BUMS in seats - the abcedaria of a writer

'bums in seats' : The people who have paid to watch a performance are bums in seats.

What I know for sure about bums in seats is that we, in the world of creating, need them. This is an old theatre expression - what will put 'bums on seats'? How do you bring in the holoi poloi - the paying public? How do you get readers, followers, believers, buyers of whatever it is you are creating?

I know, I know, for those of you following these blogs sequentially, yesterday I told you to ignore bums in seats but hey! First be fierce about your work and second - let it go out and make its way in the world. We aren't, hopefully, Glen Gould types, happy to work away on our grand piano in the basement - irritated with anyone's actual breathing when we play.

10 Ways to Keep Bums In Seats

1. Believe in them - believe that they want to have what you have created and that they are good, true arbiters of art.
2. Don't pander to them - this only makes them suspicious.
3. Don't talk (or paint, or sing) down to them. That is even worse than pandering.
4. Don't annoy them by not being careful enough with what you are creating.
5. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable with them. Because ultimately you are, so pretence is silly.
6. Look them in the eye and give them all you've got.
7. Understand that you and they are in a co-existant position with each other. Bums in seats need you to express what they are inarticulate about, but feel all the same, and you need someone who cares about what you are expressing.
8. Carry them lightly - although you need them and they need you, neither of you need to worry about it all the time.
9. Remember you chose this life so don't get mad at them! They are part of the world you decided to play in.
10. Remember that you are often a bum in a seat and they are often creators. And that there is no significant difference between you. Feel the joy that this is true!

How do you keep bums in seats? People reading? Your art reaching people?


Jessica Bell said...

Pure laziness to get up keeps my bum in my seat. LOL. Cute post!

mooderino said...

Make them laugh!


Sue said...

"Understand that you and they are in a co-existant position with each other. Bums in seats need you to express what they are inarticulate about, but feel all the same, and you need someone who cares about what you are expressing."
I think you wrote that for me, thankyou, it'll help me finish the month I hope.
now to try (for the billionth time) my signature
...back to the drawing board :(

Bish Denham said...

Being read to is another way of getting bums in seats. Great post!


Having my bum in on my chair by my pc is pure heaven.


Unknown said...

Having been actress and now writer, I sit at the computer and keep working at my craft, think that is the only way to succeed, but it doesn't do much for my health! :0)

Lana D said...

I love #7. Often times I read something someone else has written and think to myself, "Yeah! That's EXACTLY how I feel, too!"

As to keeping bums in my seats? I think honesty is first and foremost. My happiness, my sadness, my struggles, my demons, my victories - I strive to be honest about it all and I think that's what keeps people coming back.

Following from A to Z hop. I hope you will have a moment to stop by my "house" too.

Lana D.

N. R. Williams said...

I'd never heard that term before.
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jan, probably because I am constantly updating the blog. The followers are on the right hand side panel quite a way down the page. Regards, Carole.

Jan Morrison said...

Hi all! - Carole - I did find it!

Rest of youse - I'm hoping that you're like me and unless someone asks a question that needs to be answered I'm not responding to comments - I'm going to your sites and commenting and trying to get around to as many others as I can!

Nate Wilson said...

Don't talk to them? They're sitting in seats, and many are likely slouching, whereas I'm standing tall up on stage. I will most certainly talk down to them... though I'll never condescend.

In my mind, the best way to keep bums in seats is to make 'em feel like they're somewhere else.

Great post, Jan!

Bluestocking Mum said...

Great post Jan.

Good to make your acquaintance.

I'm with Carole Ann -I've put on rather a lot of weight since I started writing - too much bums on seats!

warm wishes

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Jan,

I really like your post. So true about how we need to put ourselves out there and to be as honest as we can about our craft.

Have a great weekend.

エイプリル said...

This is all really good advice on keeping bums in seats. Really enjoyeed your "B" post!

RosieC said...

All great points, Jan. Thanks :)

East for Green Eyes

Rosalind Adam said...

Agreed, you have to know who your audience is. I always try to write at the appropriate level for my prospective audience (I mostly write for children), but once I've got that level fixed in my head I forget about them and write to amuse myself.

dr3am3r said...

i love this idea and it's entirely true. i've just never put any actual thought into how I do this.

Of course, a few of my natural favorites are using a humorous voice, being real with the audience, and exposing my own embarrassment.

I love running into a friend who tells me that they came upon one of my posts right before going to bed and decided to read it instead of sleeping. In which case, the laughed themselves silly. It's encouraging to know that people read these things.

Cruella Collett said...

I just read a post about "writer's butt", and thought this would be about the same... A difficult balance, this, especially in a modern world where we are used to being able to get whatever we want of art and music and writing and movies for free (if not entirely legal) if we want. People are used to being bums on the run.

(But I have faith - bums will be bums)

Tea said...

I think all the points are good too.

Amy Saia said...

Sometimes knowing it's bums in seat time is actually very comforting. Nice post!

Maple Seawright said...

I really like this post. There are so many numbers that bloggers are trying to navitage (bounce rate, pages visited, etc) but it's all about the connections with people...and keeping the bums in the seat!!
Social Science Medley

Marie Anne said...

Most excellent! Remember that without 'bums in seats' you don't have a job.

(Thanks for the reminder about captcha for comments. I meant to turn them off the other day and forgot. All fixed).

Popping in by way of the A-Z Challenge. I’m blogging at:

Myne said...

Write what they will like I guess, though sometimes we have to write for ourselves too.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, I loved this! It's so important to keep that fine line in mind... we want to be read, we hope they are pleased, but don't try to cater to them, as they are a fickle lot...

And how funny that we have century markers on the same day! I like that!

Unknown said...

Just stopped by from the A-Z Challenge!!

Unknown said...

I love the list. I agree that if you create things (words) that people love to read, they will return. We need to be true to ourselves and them.

KM Nalle said...

I've never heard this phrase before. Great list. :)

Olivia J. Herrell, writing as O.J. Barré said...

Hi Jan, great post!

~ that rebel, Olivia

Michelle Gregory said...

a good reminder. where would we be without them?

i hopped over from A-Z.

beautiful chaos

Faith Pray said...

I read to my little bummies every night. It's our evening tradition. It's something we all look forward to. Sometimes my bums and I are enthralled with a good children's novel, and are eagerly waiting for the next chapter. At such times suspense is key for bums in seats! Some nights we sample stacks of variety: easy-readers, board books, picture books, sewing and cookbooks with lots of photos. At these times, the pictures keep bums in seats. I love the idea of bums in seats relating to the Reader as well as the Writer. Have a fun alphabet!

LTM said...

I love this! The list and the reminders are so great. Thanks for sharing this, Jan~ :o)

Talli Roland said...

Hehe! Love this, Jan! I'm with Jess - laziness keeps my bum in my seat!

Tina Laurel Lee said...

This wasn't what I expected. And completely lovely. I'm always working on keeping bums in seats. I think you may have it down though!

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

fantastic list! I need to print it out and stick it to my wall.

W.I.P. It: A Writer's Journey

Anonymous said...

That typewriter header picture takes me back to my childhood. When I learned how to type on one of those typewriters.

I saw you comment on my post of yesterday--about the book you're writing about a woman whose husband sustained a head injury. I don't mind talking about head injury. I'd be happy to dialogue with you if you'd like. email me: annbest37 at yahoo dot com.
Ann Best, Long Journey Home

Tara Tyler said...

I loved the B take and the list =)
And the picture was cute too!
Happy late b day!

Arlee Bird said...

Appreciate the theatrical analogy. One other thing is to always leave 'em wanting more.

Good Post.

Contrary to my usual practice of subscribing to comments, to save time during challenge I will not be doing so during April. If you want to respond to my comment , please email me directly from your email notification for the comment.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Unknown said...

Love this! recommending your post.

SweetMarie83 said...

Great post and great list! I hadn't really thought too much about what I do to keep bums in seats, but I guess it's trying to be honest, give people something interesting to read, something that teaches them sometimes, helps them relate to someone, or makes them feel true emotion of some sort.

MM the Queen of English said...

Totally off the subject of your blog, but I wanted you to know your comment on my blog has inspired me. I am the Queen of English, but I could be the Goddess of Procrastination. Your suggestion might help me break of that pattern. If I have the courage to try ---

MM the Queen of English