A Disciplined Writing Life

The disciplined writer leads a disciplined writing life. However, success is not a marathon of disciplined action. Success is often a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over. So, what makes for a disciplined writing life? Well, success comes about when we do some right actions daily or weekly. This is especially the case if these right actions become habits. Thus, success is based on an inter-relationship between right actions and correct habits over time. They are a foundation of achievement. In other words, when you are disciplined, you train yourself to do certain actions for success. If you stay with this for long enough, and these actions become routine, they become a habit. The only trick is that they have to be the right actions. And this can take some tweaking until you find the correct right actions. So, determining and developing the right habits is tricky at first. We have to do some experimentation or many different levels. For instance, we have to experiment when the best time of day to write is for us, given our time constraints and work habits. We also have to experiment with the kinds of writing that we do, and how long we spend at the desk. Some of us can’t last more than a few hours before we need to move on and do other things. Other people can work for many hours with a few coffee breaks before they need to move on. The most important that you can do is to determine what is right for you as quickly as possible and then stick to it. Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you are doing some self-exploration: • When is the best time for me to write? If you don’t know, write in the morning for a few weeks. Then write in the evening for another few weeks. At the end of each week or two, do a self-assessment. How much writing did you do in the morning, for instance? How much writing did you do in the evening? Did you write consistently? These questions should determine when the best time would be to write for you. • What kind of writing do you enjoy the best? Is it fiction or nonfiction? Do you enjoy researching? Do you enjoy just getting into a story and getting it written down? Whatever it is, jot it down in your success or writer’s journal for future reference. That will give you an idea of which actions to continue and which ones to stop for optimal success. • Can you continue writing at your optimal time consistently? Or, are there times that my family needs me during these times, making it especially difficult for me to stick to my scheduled time to write. If the answer to the last question is yes, then you will have to amend your writing time a bit to ensure that you consistently write. For instance, if you are a writer who enjoys writing in the evening after dinner and your family has a tendency to disturb you during these times, set days that you will write undisturbed and then have a few evenings that you could do something with your family. That will make it easier for you to get to your writing in the evening as your family will know that you will be doing things with them as well on other designated evenings. You could supplement the other evenings that you would be writing with a few mornings or afternoons to make up for the lost time. By asking yourself these questions, you will be getting into habit of writing and you will be taking a few right actions to be most successful. So, what are you waiting for? Start your self-assessment process today by doing the assignment below. Have a GREAT week! Irene S. Roth