The word discipline has many negative connotations not only for writers but for everyone. It seems that we don’t want to be disciplined. It connotes ideas of being narrow-minded and stubborn in pursuing and fulfilling our goals. It can also connote a stagnant mind-set for some. But is this really true?
Discipline need not have these negative connotations. This is because without discipline, writers will not be successful. But discipline comes in many different forms, some of which are very positive indeed. When writers are asked about the positive dimensions of discipline, here are a few things that they commonly mention:
• It helps me stick to my writing goals;
• It helps me be aware of my writing goals;
• It helps me be a successful writer;
• It helps me gain balance with my other goals by setting time lines to complete projects;
• It helps me gain self-confidence;
• It helps me accomplish so much more;
• It helps me be in control of my writing career;
• It helps me see where I need to focus my energies and where I can let go a bit;
• It helps me make a commitment to my writing;
• It helps me carve out time to write and ascertain a particular time to write;
• It helps me develop my craft so that I can become the best writer that I am capable of;
• It helps me be a professional writer.
Given all of these benefits, it is no wonder that discipline and becoming a disciplined writer has become a buzz word among writers. There is a big difference between a writer who has discipline and one who doesn’t. One can almost see it in how they regard their work projects and how important it is for them to complete them on time and with a high degree of quality.
The most successful writers are extremely disciplined. They know where they are at the present time, and where they want to be 1, 2, 3, and 5 years from now in terms of their writing projects and what they want to accomplish. They know what kinds of writing to pursue for personal fulfillment and they take the time to carve up some time for themselves.
Sprints are one way of developing discipline. When you decide to sprint, you will be making time to write on a consistent basis. And if you can do one sprint, you may even be able to do two or more sprints in a day. This can amount to a lot of writing and you will feel much more confident of your abilities as a writer.
Personal example of being disciplined in one area of your life and how that can translate into being disciplined in your writing career….
As you know, I took up a health challenge at the beginning of the year. It took me a while in December of last year to really decide on the changes that I had to make in order to become healthier and more active. I had to make certain sacrifices such as making the time to get out exercise, change my mindset about food, replace glutted-filled bread with gluten-free (there was a real taste difference at first…the consistency of gluten-free bread was very different at first), cutting portions, and eating more veggies and fruit, cutting out starches such as potatoes and pasta. But once I put all of these habits into place over the past 4 weeks, I feel so much better and I have a lot less arthritis pain in my joints.
But there were even more benefits to my new health challenge: I actually found that becoming disciplined about my health actually helped me to develop even more discipline with my writing. I found that I didn’t have all day to work on a writing project. So, I had to become much more efficient and stop wasting time. I had to make sure that I had a real point by point plan in place to make sure that I got all of my writing done. And looking back on the last month, I had completed more writing every day and I have completed projects quicker.
After reflecting why this might be the case, I saw some real close parallels between the discipline I had to develop for my health challenge and for my writing challenges. Here are some parallels that I noticed over time:
• I had to organize the different facets of my life as I organize my writing projects to be most successful;
• I had to take the time to plan my meals and activities for the week, much like I plan my writing projects and what I will accomplish each week;
• I needed to stick to my plan—regardless if I saw immediate results–both in writing and with my health challenge, it takes a long time to see improvements;
• I had to learn how to stick to the challenge as I do to my writing projects until they are complete;
• I had to decide how to do what I planned to do both with my eating/activity plan and my writing plan—even if I didn’t feel like it;
• I had to make a firm decision to make my goals work—both my health goals and my writing goals;
• I had to have firm resolve to achieve my health and writing goals.
So, as you can see clearly, discipline really does beget discipline. If you are disciplined in one part of your life, you will probably be disciplined in another part of your life that you believe is important. And you will only be successful if you can overcome small, daily obstacles to fulfill your overall goals.
To your good health and to your success as a writer!
Irene S. Roth