Friday, August 25, 2006

Discipline…. One simple word.. hard freakin’ concept

I’ve been hearing the word a lot lately. How to get books written - Discipline of course. Sit your butt in the chair and write the damn book.

Makes sense. I agree. But it’s too simple a concept. Too straightforward.

It’s come to mind a lot, because I know, I could be writing more and faster. Hell, I should be writing more. I sit at the computer and spend time surfing the net, emailing friends, when I could be writing my next masterpiece.

I excuse my lack of productivity as a lack of discipline and it is. But, there are other factors at work here. As an unpubb’d writer, I write hoping this book will be the one. Every step of the way, I wonder if this is good enough? Am I mining every last ounce of tension and emotion out of the scene, while still staying true to my voice. Am I writing something different enough, but not too different? Am I getting better with each book, or stagnating?
I sit at the computer with all these thoughts and angst on my shoulders, whispering in my ear. This I guess is where the discipline comes in. Do I ignore them and plow ahead, or do I listen. More times than I’d like to admit, I listen. I let them distract me, convince me my time would be better spent doing anything else.

When I was a new writer, I didn’t have that constant second guessing of my work. I wrote(badly) but enjoyed every moment. Now, I write(better I hope) and fight the self doubt and the worry every step of the way. Where I need discipline is in overcoming this and continuing to put words on the page.

I know I’m not alone in this. A lot of other writers, most even- pubb’d and unpubb’d - sit down with their self doubts as their writing companions.

But some writers don’t have these same doubts. Or at least don’t seem to. Maybe I don’t know them well enough, and I’m sure not naming names here. I’m jealous of these people, deep down hard core green with envy. Not of the bestsellers, or the award winners, but the writers who can sit at the computer and not agonize over whether each scene will be good enough. Writers who can talk glowing of their own work with confidence and enthusiasm, who know they write really well.

Someday, someone will have to tell me their secret. Until then, I’ll struggle along.


Jordanne Ford said...

I think it's very fair to say you're not alone in this, Sinead. And I think you've absolutely struck gold with everything you've said. As I read your post today, I sat here nodding. There was an almost carefree abandonment with writing when you didn't know the 'rules', you just wrote.
I don't know what the answer is, I can find a bazillion excuses, the "P-rocrastination" word being a big one, but really, that's still a lame, lazy excuse at best, for me. I've even been known to tell myself, "I just ate, I'm horribly full, there's no way I can concentrate on writing anything good." Puh-lease, it's not like I'm going to get cramps from writing on a full stomach. Discipline is definitely a great word, as is dedication. I think I'll highlight them and stick them on my monitor.

Maureen McGowan said...

Maybe they're just good fakers? I don't know... I think if you don't have some self-doubts, if writing isn't a little hard, I wonder if you're pushing yourself hard enough...

someone once told me if you don't fall down skiing, you're not trying hard enough. I kinda agree with that. And I'm okay with it... For skiing. I'm not trying to be a pro at that. I'm just out for fun, hoping not to break anything on my way down the hill.

With my writing, I hope I push myself to fall down a few more times... Hmmm... I kinda like that analogy. Maybe shouldn't have wasted it on a comment. :-)

Margaret Moore said...

Here's the key question I think you should be asking yourself: am I *having fun*? Am I entertaining myself? 'Cause if you feel like writing's a chore? Baby, it will be.

See, here's the thing: I can talk about my work with enthusiasm because I love my characters, even when the writing isn't easy. I don't yammer on for hours because I think I'm the greatest writer in the world -- I just love my people and the stories I give them.

So I say, forget the rules, the "oooh, I must have this" or "I must have that." You've been at this long enough to know what you need you need to know without thinking about it -- you KNOW it. And if you forgot something? It wasn't that important to you in the first place, and *there's nothing wrong with that*. Different writers emphasize different things. It's one way we differ from each other -- it's part of your voice.

Speaking of which, if you write from enjoyment, from a place of enthusiasm and just plain "oooh, baby, this is gonna be good because it's a story *I* want to read," your voice will be there. Without effort. Without angst. Can't prevent it, really. *G*

So please, I beg of you, quit worrying you'll make a "mistake"! Stop the analyzing! Forget the "musts" and "shoulds" -- you aren't writing those authors' books. You're writing your own. Only you can tell your story your way, so just dive right in and tell it.

And then later, we can all get to read it. *G*

Margaret Moore said...

Okay, who spotted the boo-boo in my last comment? There's one too many "you need's" in there. D'oh!

Christine said...

It is hard when you're unpublished to keep a regular writing routine. And I don't think it has anything to do with lack of motivation, but rather writing isn't our "day job". When you have to work a job, have children, a husband, various pets, it can be a challenge to put your butt in the chair and write. Even if you do get seated, the Internet has a big pull. I think the key is setting realistic goals and being honest with yourself. I don't feel bad if I don't write every day if I had a lot of "life" going on. But I do set goals for myself and make sure that I'm always working towards them.

Sinead M said...

Great points guys.

I think it's the second guessing that takes up time and effort and I'm trying not to do it as much.

That takes as much discipline as sitting my butt in the chair..

Margaret Moore said...

It's not that I don't wonder about what I'm writing. I save just that for the editing portion -- and believe you me, I do a *lot* of that.

Molly O'Keefe said...

As a person who reads what you are able to churn out every week despite the evil whispering and shoulder sitting -- let me tell you -- you are making it look easy!!!

If you need discpline I shudder to think what I need - more wine?

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