Monday, May 14, 2007

Discipline. Commitment. What do those REALLY mean?

Something that has frustrated me over the years (and I'm truly the only one responsible for my actions, so I’m not pointing blame at anyone else) is the fact that people don't take Writing Time seriously. What I mean is that if a friend invites you to lunch and you can't go because you're a dentist and you have a root canal to perform, or you're a teacher and you’re teaching a class, or a firefighter and have a shift to cover, no one is ever going to be offended. Sure, you've got your job to do.

But if you tell your friend you can't do lunch with them because you're writing, you sound ridiculous, right? Because why can't you just move your writing time back a bit? Or you're being selfish or self-centered or whatever. And perhaps you buy into it and say... well, just this once because it was her birthday last week or she's getting a divorce and needs my shoulder. Or you put it off for some other reason, because this is easy to do… sound familiar?

Now I consider myself fairly disciplined, but still find that most things that “come up” in my day tend to take precedence over my writing. Actually, scratch that… IN THE PAST, I often found things to take precedence over my writing. Important things like checking my e-mail, watching episodes of 24, and organizing my spice rack.

I've just recently put my foot down and it feels great. I want to make my livelihood by writing, it is my passion and my career choice. So, if a day goes by and I don't write, it means I haven't been to work. I absolutely know that if I remain disciplined about it (try Stephen King's On Writing and you'll learn that he writes 10 pages PER DAY before he does anything else) I will succeed. I'm getting too old and have been doing this too long to procrastinate any longer. It's time to poop or get off the pot.

I don’t care if you’re a chronic night bird. I was one for 25 years. I used to have marathon reading and writing sessions into the wee, wee, wee hours of the night. But I’m here to tell you that first thing in the morning is best. Before you do anything else. Before you allow anything to take precedence.

And DON’T open your e-mail and DON’T answer the phone until your hour, your 5 pages, your 3 poems, your morning pages, etc are DONE. That’s what gets me into trouble, e-mail and answering the phone. Because I get pulled into everyone else’s drama, people want things from me, and it’s hard to say – hey, I’d love to get that report to you by noon, but I’m writing.

But Danika, you’ll say, I get up at 7 AM already! I don’t have TIME to write.

So what? Do you really want this? Are you really committed? Then wake up at 6:30 AM. Or figure out two things you do during the day that you could either cut out or cut down on. Do you really need to watch Desperate Housewives? Do you really need to read all your favourite blogs every day? But Danika, I check YOUR blog every day! Well, then, there’s one thing you can cut out! Go write!

BTW - I'm on DAY SEVEN of my 10-Day Challenge. I had my writing done before 11 am today. An hour per day (or editing 10 pages, whichever comes first). AND I just started a 100-day challenge with a friend: to do Treatments every day for 100 days. A Treatment is basically affirmative prayer. Our treatments mostly focus on the GRATITUDE part. I'm grateful for creative challenges. :-)


WriterForHire said...

No, I'm sorry. I can't relate at all.

You'll have to excuse me now, I need to go clean the lint from my dryer...

OpenChannel said...

Yeah, and this posted from the writer who just spent 1/2 hour taking pictures of her disapproving cats.

Do as I say, not as I do...