“Discipline is the key…the bedrock of productive writing. Talent is not a rare commodity. Discipline is.”
I recently read this quote in How to Write Fast (While Writing Well) by David Fryxell (the book is best suited for non-fiction writers, but has a few good tips for fiction writers). Fryxell also states that there isn’t writer’s block, just disorganized writers.
Both of these caught my attention because I’m not very disciplined or organized when it comes to my writing. But what if I was? What would it look like to be disciplined?
So, here’s my vision of what a disciplined and organized writing session would look like:
- Plan/schedule writing time in advance. I just started doing this about three weeks ago. Each Sunday I open my calendar for the coming week and schedule in blocks of time – with a reminder! Sometimes it’s 30 minutes, sometimes it’s 2-3 hours; it just depends. But I try to have something scheduled every day if possible (I also write on the weekends, but that is catch as catch can).
- Set goals I want to accomplish that week. I’m back with my writing buddies and we’ve been sending each other goals and progress reports. For me it’s things like: “Finish revising short story” or “Write the scene(s) leading up to the midpoint in my novel.” I’ve focused on goals that I truly believe I can attain, rather than shooting for the moon; starting small and as I see how I progress, perhaps upping my goals.
- Have everything I need to accomplish the goal. Is there research I need to do that if I don’t have it, will slow me down? Do I know the scene or part of the story where I want to begin? Do I have a decent idea of what that scene or part will be about? If I’m writing at another location, do I have my pad and pen, laptop/tablet, chargers, etc?
- Have my inspirations/rituals in place. I’m not a coffee drinker, but if I was, I’d make sure I had my coffee ready. I’m trying to take deep breaths, walk around and begin thinking about my work. Sometimes I’ll read, meditate, or do yoga to help me transition to writing. Light a candle, murmur a mantra, do yoga or meditation, scream therapy – whatever it takes to trigger your brain to know it’s time to write.
- When it’s my scheduled time to write, I need to write. I confess: I haven’t always done it. There were two times when the reminder went off and I was in the middle of something else. I didn’t stop and start writing, but I should have. Or better yet, I should have been aware that my writing time was coming up so I could wrap up what I was doing and be ready to get down to writing.
One of my big goals is to finish a novel in a year – or sooner. To do this, I will absolutely have to develop discipline and organization so…onward.
If you have tips on how you stay disciplined and organized, share them!