Desperately Seeking Discipline - by Trish Morey
And no, I'm not talking fishnets and whips here (please, we’re not *that* kind of blog:-), I'm talking sheer gutsy, stick to your guns self-discipline. The sort you need to overcome the odds, to fight for something you really want. Why is it so hard to come by? Why isn’t there enough of it to go around? Because I sure as heck could do with some.
The thing is, I shouldn’t have to ask these questions. I’m a writer. I write books. And like any writer I have to be self disciplined enough to plant myself on this chair and punch out the words, day after day after day until I have enough words in a particular order that will make a story, hopefully a story my publisher will buy. Nobody can write my story but me. It’s kind of like giving birth – you might have a cast of thousands in attendance, an obstetrician, a paediatrician, a midwife or two and a partner to squeeze your hand and mop your brow, but *nobody* is going to volunteer to trade places with you – nobody can. This is your baby. Writing’s like that – hard work, challenging, painful (ultimately rewarding gets a mention too, but right now let’s concentrate on the pain:-). And your editor and your agent if you have one are waiting for this baby, this story to hatch, as are your husband and family because they’d really like to eat again, but nobody is offering to trade places with you – nuh uh - you have to do it. It’s your job. And it takes discipline to make yourself sit there, to have the discipline and the self belief that you can do this despite all those cruddy words that keep appearing and getting in the way of your vision. It takes discipline to push the damned thing out.
So I’m disciplined enough to sit down and write stories – so where’s my problem? The problem is that, in the two and a bit years since I first sold my first novel and began writing full time and while I’ve been pushing out stories through this keyboard, my weight has blown out by almost 15kgs. (And for all you imperial people, there’s 2.2 lbs to the kilo, 6.4 kg to the stone – I’ll let you do the maths) In that time I’ve written six more books. That’s 2 ½ kgs per book. Ugh. At this rate I soon won’t be able to get out of my chair, even if I want to!
How could I let this happen? It’s not as if I don’t exercise - I take the dog for a walk most days for anything from half to one hour - but I know I eat too much. When I’m writing, the pantry is my very best friend. Write a sentence – need inspiration? – check pantry – delete half sentence and rearrange – nnnh, not sure about that – make coffee – check pantry while kettle boiling – undo changes – check pantry. Aaaaaargh!
And what I really don’t understand how I can be so disciplined in one part of my life – I meet my deadlines (who knows how with all that pantry inventory taking?), and yet lack discipline in others. Is there a finite amount of discipline allocated per person? Am I using it all up on my writing and leaving nothing for anything else? Or am I just using writing as my excuse – I have to establish my career - the story comes first!! I suspect the latter.
Well, reality check time. If I don’t look after my health now my career will be over before it’s had a chance to get off the ground. So yesterday I did it. There’s a new Curves opened up down the hill – yep, Curves has reached even this downunder neck of the woods. And yesterday I joined. Today I had my first circuit and hey, I can still move! And I am going to put a lock on the pantry and give this a shot. I know it won’t be easy – when I’m right into a book I hate to go out and do stuff when the story’s occupying all available brainspace, but I’m going to have to make myself, and make this a part of my routine. Let you know how I get on! Meanwhile, if you do have any spare self-discipline, please send it my way. I sure could do with it!