Welcome to October and a new series on Indie Plot Twist. Two, actually. Danielle’s clinic on using details to bring scenes to life has already started. If you missed it, you can read it here.
My series is about developing daily discipline as a writer. I’ll publish a new post each Saturday in October and I hope you’ll join me.
I also hope you’ll share in the discussion. If you have concerns or questions about any part of the writing life and how to be a more disciplined writer, please feel free to leave them in the comment box below.
We begin today with a basic introduction and my thoughts on what writing discipline is and why it’s important.
Discipline Isn’t a Pretty Word
Most of us don’t like it. We don’t like exercising discipline. We don’t like it when someone else disciplines us. We don’t even like to mete out discipline.
So we hear the word “discipline” and that’s what we think.
That’s not what this series is about.
The discipline I’m talking about is what keeps you doing something even when it isn’t fun just because it has to be done. One of the things the world turns on is discipline, particularly the discipline to keep doing something even when it’s difficult, messy, or just not fun.
In fact, despite the perception that writing is a creative thing and shouldn’t require discipline, discipline is required. A serious writer (that is, a writer who wants to be published and who wants to grow an audience) will develop the discipline to write even when it’s like rolling out of bed on a cold morning and wading through hip deep snow to milk the cows at 4 a.m. Yes. I have done that.
This series is all about helping you find the methods to develop discipline for your writing life. So if you write when you’re inspired and at no other time, you can stop reading now.
But if you want to learn how to be more disciplined as a writer, welcome to the series.
Oh. And keep reading!
A Few Truths to Keep in Mind
You will have days when you’re inspired. You can’t type fast enough. You can’t stay ahead of the flow of ideas. Rejoice in those days.
But there will also be dry days. Days when words appear then are gone again before you write them down. Days when your imagination is a dry riverbed or when your muse is on strike. It will frustrate you. The creative process will defy you. It will thwart you and mock you. It will ignore you. (Trust me on this. It’s all true. Every word of it.) Know that you’ll have days like that.
You will have days when you just don’t want to write. You’ll look at writing the same way you look at chewing the same gum you chewed yesterday. Or last week. Yuck!
In other words, fellow writers, it ain’t always easy and it ain’t always fun. Come to terms with those ideas and you’ll be light years ahead of everybody else.
Fitting Writing In Around Life
As with most things related to writing, there is no Right Answer for this question. A lot depends on your current situation and your writing personality.
For example, your current situation might be a full-time job or single parenthood. You might be dealing with health issues for yourself or a loved one. Life happens every day and sometimes there just isn’t time to write.
Your writing personality might be such that you write best early in the morning, but your job requires you work from midnight to mid-morning.
Those are just examples, of course. The point is that the first thing you have to know as a writer is that you’re going to have to work around your life at some point in your writing career. For most of us, the truth is that we’ll be working around the rest of our lives for the rest of our lives. Writing will be “just one more thing to do”. Love it though we do—and I hope you do—it will have to be fitted in around other things.
But that makes daily discipline all the more important.
So What Does Daily Discipline Look Like?
A basic description is easy. It’s whatever you do day-to-day that gets writing done. It might be writing a certain amount of words or for a certain length of time before you do anything else. It might be a warm up exercise to get started. It might be going to the same place every day or using the same pen or listening to music to set a mood. It might be setting specific time or word count goals or other forms of personal motivation.
Sometimes, it’s what you do to get unstuck after you get stuck, finding a way to regain lost momentum or get over, under, around, or through a block.
Daily discipline isn’t something you get overnight. It happens just like a habit happens. You do it long enough and it becomes second nature.
Developing the discipline to stick with your writing can be developed the same way. The first step is to find methods that work for you. In the next post, I’ll share some things that were recently of help to me in improving writing habits. I hope you’ll join me.
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