Asha, a friend of this page, just asked me to remind her of this word, which I mentioned from stage on Saturday afternoon in my talk with Wally Lamb, when we were discussing writerly discipline. "Sitzfleisch" is a fabulous word, and everyone out there who is living a creative life needs to know about it.

The word is German (though widely appropriated in Yiddish) and it literally means "butt flesh". (The meat of your ass, in other words.) But the figurative use of "sitzfleish" means: "The amount of endurance a person has for sitting still on his/her butt for the hours and hours and hours of time that it takes to get important work done."

Sitzfleisch is sort of the opposite of Ants In Your Pants.

The amount of sitzfleisch you've got will directly influence how much work you can produce. How long can you stand it, to sit there and push through? Inspiration is beautiful, imagination divine, and we all love soaring dreams. But sitzfleisch? Ass meat? THAT'S how you write your novel. That's how you compose your symphony. That's how you paint your masterpiece.

Some of us are more fortunate that others, in that we are, shall I say, NATURALLY gifted with an excess of sitzfleisch. (Ahem…) Others of us must build up that boredom-enduring flesh over time. But one way or another, the answer is in your butt.

Sit. Stay. Work. (And every once in a while, stretch.) Repeat.



via Elizabeth Gilbert’s Facebook Wall