SELF-DISCIPLINE AS THE MOTIVATOR FOR INSPIRATIONBy Debra Holland
Self-discipline and inspiration are two words that don’t seem to go together. Inspiration sounds creative and exciting. Self-discipline, on the other hand, sounds like hard work.
If your muse flashes you an interesting idea, (if you’re like me) you gather a stack of scribbled notes full of character sketches, plot details, and dialogue fragments. Yet without the self-discipline to actually write, nothing will come of your brilliant story.
I’m not saying that self-discipline alone will lead to a successful writing goal. You do need the spark of inspiration. Yet all your creativity won’t be enough unless you “sit your butt in the chair in front of your computer.”
These days, almost everyone has crazy busy lives. The “no time” excuse is valid for almost all of us. But even when I have time, I often don’t utilize it well. I putter around the house in avoidance mode. I’m sure some of you are nodding agreement as you read this.
I recently returned from the RWA national conference. This time something really struck me about successful authors—the seriousness of their writing routine. Over and over again, I heard best-selling authors mention the rigidity of their schedules. “I write from 9 to 5 every day.” Or, “I write a chapter a day.”
Now, this is not new information to me. I’ve heard comments like these many times. But for some reason, the concept sank deep into my brain. I returned from the conference resolved to be more self-disciplined about my writing time.
I know from my own experiences (and that of others) that story inspiration comes easier when you write (at least a little) every day. It’s as if you’re opening up a spiritual spigot, and the creative energy flows forth. Some days in a gush, others a trickle. But at least it comes.
If you don’t write every day, or almost every day, you’re shutting off this flow. The spigot could even rust shut, leaving you blocked and afraid you’ll never be able to write again. It’s not that you can’t turn it back on (although the process might involve a lot of hammering.) But why handicap yourself when you KNOW (somewhere in your day) you can slip a few paragraphs into a notebook or your computer. If you can’t think of anything to write about, you can still journal or blog.
Last week in my plot group, we discussed the concept of keeping a daily log of the time you write, what you’re working on, and how much you write. I learned that the authors who track themselves are also successful at keeping to a schedule. For the last few days, I’ve started doing this. There’s something about writing down my start time in my organizer, which makes me actually begin the work. I’ve made more progress than I normally would have, so I intend to keep it up.
Due to my consulting work as a corporate grief/crisis counselor, I can’t stick to a set writing routine. I never know when I’ll get the call that summons me to a company to help them deal with whatever crisis has just occurred. But I can still write every day—at least half a page. And if I do this, my inspirational flow will continue. A page a day means a book in a year. That’s all it takes. J
How about joining me?