Friday, March 11, 2005

The Discipline of Writing

As my writing has moved from hobby to career, I have found the major skill I have to develop is discipline. Now, being the sanguine I am, I'd prefer to write whenever the mood happened to hit but as with most endeavors that are started this way, I am not likely to actually finish what I start if this is the only time I settle down and get to the business of writing. I have heard of many ways that writers go about being disciplined in their writing.

Some don't do anything else until they've written
Some write a certain number of words
Some write a certain number of pages
Some write during certain hours of the day
Some write on certain days of the week

And so on. It really doesn't matter how you discipline yourself, but I do know it is absolutely necessary if we are to ever get the writing accomplished. I wonder how many people out there have files stuffed with half-finished stories or articles because they never actually got around to finishing them. Deadlines happen to be the driving force for me. Now that I have them, I'd like to keep them, so that forces me to force myself to get busy.

I have young children at home and a schedule that is erratic at best. But generally, my writing happens during naptime. When the kids go down and the doors are shut, I go directly to my computer. Even if I have a half-finished laundry pile or a bathroom to clean, the writing comes first. I can sort laundry with my kids running around, I can't write chapter 16 unless they're asleep. But once I get to my computer I still need to discipline myself from taking a surf around the web or reading a blog or doing a hundred other little things that can distract me. I have to boot up Word and pull up my story and get to writing

I use a page quota. This has always worked best for me because I can easily break down how many pages I need to get finished in a day. I also tend to edit a lot as I write so word counts aren't as effective for me. You have to do what works for you. Planning my writing time doesn't make it less creative or fun - it just makes it me more productive.

At least that's the story I'm sticking to...