Hi, SEers! Mae here. We think of writing as a creative endeavor—as it certainly is—but today I want to talk about the discipline of writing.
Many of us have been writing since childhood. That’s not the case for everyone, but my guess is that you can probably relate to what I’m going to say even if you haven’t been writing as long.
As young writers, we usually wrote when the mood struck. Inspiration flooded us and we rode the giddy wave of excitement. Most times, however, that wave of creativity didn’t carry us through to the end of our writing project. The tide receded and left us stranded without the drive to finish.
Do you remember the days of hopping from story to story? I certainly do. In my younger years I would work on a story until the well ran dry then shift focus to something new. The problem with working that way is I rarely finished anything. But as I grew older and became more serious about writing, I realized I needed to approach things differently.
Writing is a passion. The dictionary defines passion as “strong and barely controllable emotion.”
Emotion is a reactionary state, while discipline involves self-control. As I’ve aged, I’ve started looking at writing as a commitment in addition to being the overwhelming passion of my youth. To succeed at something involves making time for it, even when it may not be convenient. Even when we may not “feel” like clearing our schedule to write.
I know many of you write every day and I applaud you for that. Even if you’re retired, and have that freedom, there are still plenty of real life issues that can get in the way. For those of us working a day job, carving out time for writing involves discipline. We can still grab those “when inspiration strikes moments,” but to succeed we need to commit to writing. For me, that involves a regular writing day on the weekend (yes, I only get one). Even if I don’t feel like writing, I force myself to sit down at my keyboard and work on my WIP. I admit to straying in 2020, entertaining other projects while my WIP languished, but I am now back on track, maintaining the disciplined schedule that enabled me to be productive for decades. If you’re looking to develop a schedule of your own, here are a few tips to help you stick with it:
Set aside realistic times.
If you work a day job and come home exhausted each night, don’t plan your writing schedule for evening hours. Choose a time when you’ll have more energy, even if you’re not sure it will amount to creative energy. Discipline means writing even when you may not feel like it.
Train yourself to avoid distractions.
Turn off your cell phone, and computer notifications. Your writing time is for writing, nothing else.
Make sure your family understands your commitment, so they won’t interrupt you.
Five hours of uninterrupted writing can add up to an abundance of words. Do that once or twice a week, and you’ll see your word count blossom.
Commit to one project at a time.
This is a tough one, especially when you hit the “messy middle” of your book and the siren allure of other projects serenade you. RESIST THE TEMPTATION! Discipline is rarely fun, but it always gets the job done!
I usually don’t do this until I finish a project, but I do treat myself when I’ve stuck to a commitment and seen it through to the end. It might be something as simple as reading a book that’s been calling to me, or buying a new blouse. Rewards are nice and remind us we’ve achieved a goal. Give yourself an “attagirl” or an “attaboy ” and celebrate!
Now it’s your turn. Are you a disciplined writer? Do you have a schedule? How do you stick to it? If you don’t have a schedule, can you see yourself developing one? Let’s chat a while.
Ready, set, go!