Everyone needs self-discipline, and most of us learn it from an early age. Daily schedules must be met even by infants. At my age, one would think self-discipline would no longer be an issue.

I’m in awe of writers who also have full-time jobs. They have to be intentional in finding time to write. When I hear a writer say she gets up two hours earlier than is otherwise necessary every morning in order to write, I’m blown away. I’m not a morning person and the thoughts of getting up two hours earlier than necessary send shivers down my spine. Plus, there’s no way I could write a complete sentence in the early morning hours. My hat’s off to each and every writer who has to do this.

Being retired, I have “all the time in the world.” For that, I am the envy of every working person. If I only had “all the energy in the world” or the energy of an average child or teen, I’d be living in a perfect bubble.

Deadlines

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

I’ve always been motivated by deadlines. I finished term papers the night before they were due. I tend to finish (or not finish!) reading library books the night before they’re due. Self-imposed deadlines don’t usually work for me.

Every time I’ve tried to work out a writing schedule on paper, I’ve had limited success. I tend to over-schedule my days. Now that I have the freedom to do as I please, I want to do it all. I can’t do it all, and that’s a lesson I’m trying to learn. Everything takes longer than I think it will take.

Is writing my job?

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Everything I’ve read about writing and self-discipline says a writer must have it. Without self-discipline, the writing won’t get done. I’ve read that I must treat my writing like it’s my job. I’ve taken these adages as truth, but I’m here today to rock the boat.

I never had a job I truly enjoyed, so the word “job” carries negative connotations for me. I love to write and I enjoy doing the research historical fiction calls for. When my writing or research becomes a job, I’ll probably lose interest and move on to something else. The problem with that is:  I can’t imagine not writing.

Self-discipline tips

I’m probably the last person who needs to give others self-discipline tips or advice; however, I can’t be the only person out there with the same or similar roadblocks. Illness happens, and age slows most of us down.

Trouble with self-discipline and things I’m feeling pressured to work on:

1.  Writing Time

2.  Building My Writer’s/Author’s Platform

3.  Sleep  

4.  Reading Time

5.  Weight

All five things I listed above require self-discipline. What I’m seeking is a balance of self-discipline and self-love. I must love myself and like myself before I can find productive self-discipline. What part does motivation play? If I’m happy with myself, I’ll be more productive.

Making time to write

Photo by Hope House Press – Leather Diary Studio on Unsplash

Instead of scheduling writing time each day, I think I’ll write better quality prose if I give myself the freedom to write when the mental and physical energy come together. That might not happen every day. Criticizing myself on the days those don’t come together is not productive. Most days I’m in a brain fog, and there’s no point forcing creativity.

Making time to build a writer’s platform

I’m taking an online course about building a writer’s platform. I’ve learned that I’m doing some things right, but there are many things I need to start doing. It seems overwhelming, but I’m learning a lot about what an author needs to include in his or her website and blog.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

I have a couple more weeks to complete the course. It will take longer than that to implement all the things I’ve learned. What I’m trying to learn is to not be too hard on myself about the things I don’t get done. Again, that’s not productive. I need to concentrate on what I do accomplish.

If you want to know more about the course I’m taking, here’s a link: https://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/. Click on “Classes” and then scroll down. The course I’m taking is Karen Cioffi’s “Build Your Author/Writer Platform.” It’s offered again in September and November.

Sleep

I have a medical condition that mess up my circadian rhythm. After 32 years of wrecked sleep, I’m going to a sleep coach. She’s helping me get on a regular sleep schedule.

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

The process involves getting a certain amount of full-spectrum sunlight for at least 30 minutes in the morning and in the evening, eating meals and carbohydrate snacks at prescribed intervals, dimming the lights and not sitting near the TV for three hours before bedtime, not looking at an electronic screen for two hours before going to bed, getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, and turning the lights out at an appointed time to make my bedroom so dark I literally can’t see my hand in front of my face.

Not looking at my computer or my tablet for two hours before bedtime and getting up at the same time every morning have been the most difficult facets for me.

As of last week, I’m supposed to drastically curtail my “to do” list and allow myself more time to accomplish each task. You see, each thing I’m feeling pressured about relates to getting my sleep regulated. Getting my sleep regulated will give me the opportunity to have a better quality of life and will make it easier for me to do the things I want to do.

Making time to read

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In order to be a good writer, I need to be an avid reader. For a couple of months now, I can’t seem to set aside enough time to read what I want to read, or I fall asleep with the book or e-reader in my hands. (Those “dim lighting for three hours before bedtime” and “no electronics for two hours before bedtime” rules aren’t helping!)

Since I report on my blog the books I’ve read, my reading is in some ways becoming a job. I don’t want to feel that way about reading, so I might lighten up on my TBR (To Be Read) list. If the books on my TBR were gathered together instead of just being a list, they would probably look something like the above photo!

Weight

Photo by i yunmai on Unsplash

I need to lose weight. I’m trying to limit myself to 1,200 calories each day. Most days I’ve succeeded, but I’ve only just begun. Counting calories is a time-consuming endeavor, but I need to do this before things get out-of-control.

Until my next blog post

The Spies of Shilling Lane, by Jennifer Ryan

I hope you have a good book to read or listen to. I’m listening to The Spies of Shilling Lane, by Jennifer Ryan.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might recall that I first mentioned Jennifer Ryan and her debut novel, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, in my March 10, 2017 blog post (https://janetswritingblog.com/2017/03/10/11-things-ive-learned-about-social-media-since-february-21-2017/) and again in my April 1, 2017 blog post (https://janetswritingblog.com/2017/04/01/the-authors-i-read-in-march/) when I reviewed that book.

If you’re a writer, I hope you have the self-love, self-motivation, and self-discipline to finish your current WIP (Work in Progress.)

Thank you for reading my blog. You could have spent the last few minutes doing something else, but you chose to read my blog.

Let’s continue the conversation

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Do you schedule reading and/or writing time? If so, how is that working for you? What works for you?

Janet

37 thoughts on “Is it self-discipline or self-love a writer needs?

  1. Hi. There’s a lot to digest in your essay. And a lot I can relate to.

    I’ve never written a book. And I doubt that I ever will. I find it real challenging just to turn out the pieces for my site. One problem I have is coming up with story ideas. For me, they definitely don’t grow on trees. See you!

    Neil S.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Neil, I’m also finding it more and more challenging to come up with blog post ideas. I feel like, “Who am I to try to tell anyone how to write a novel?” I don’t feel qualified to do that, because it’s what I’m trying to learn myself. From the beginning, my blog was supposed to be about my journey as a writer. After nine years, though, I’m running out of things to say on my blog, and I’m embarrassed that I still haven’t gotten my novel to the point of trying to get it published. The ideas for a blog really don’t grow on trees, and it’s difficult to try to keep it fresh. I’m sorry you’re feeling somewhat the same way, but I’m relieved that I’m not the only one in the boat. Thank you for your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is why I will never write a book—I only write when I’m inspired to do so. I am so happy to hear you’ve got a sleeping coach. Sounds like they are having you do so many of the things I was taught to do by my sleep guru. I do hope it helps you. You and I have lost much over the years to sleeplessness.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Hi Alison, if I manage to live long enough, I want to see my novel on the shelf in a library or a bookstore. Time is not on my side! Yes, the sleep coach is helping me. Problem now is, even though I go to sleep at the appointed time, I cannot wake up anywhere close to the appointed time the next morning. I see another sleep study in my near future. Sleeping 11 or 12 hours-a-day is not healthy and it’s certainly not productive. Yes, you and I have lost so much to our sleep problems. Always great to hear from you.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I have a problem staying in bed past 4:30am. I don’t mind but it’s no fun for my hubby. If you get that book on a shelf, I will buy a copy for my own shelves. Be well.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I am also amazed by people who are able to get up earlier than they have to – to do, well, anything. That being said, I work full time, and I have a part time job, so I really do struggle to find time for writing some days (or some weeks). On those days, I try to listen to a podcast about writing, or listen to the novel that I’m referencing so that I feel productive – because when I don’t feel productive, I am not as motivated to write the next day when I do have the time to sit down and actually put pen to paper. I’ve also found that carrying a notebook with me makes it easier to jump back into my story (similar to if I was reading a book) whenever I want. If I’m traveling, I can write on the plane, or if I need to decompress, I will head to the local bar and work on my book while enjoying dinner (let someone else do the cooking – I need that time to write!) This way, I don’t have to make time to write, I can just sneak it into my day!

    I hope you are able to sort through everyone’s ideas and find a path/plan that works for you!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Whoa! 4:30 a.m. That must be a killer on nights you’re unable to go to sleep! I’ll put your name on the list for a 1st edition of my novel! Thanks for your encouragement.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for your comments, Krista. My hat’s off to you! I can’t imagine working full time and having a part-time job and trying to be a writer, too. Thank you for your suggestions. I’ve been trying to get this writing life figured out for a long time. Having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia since 1987 has worked against me and my writing plans. I often feel unproductive, and that can really bring you down. I’m glad you’ve found a way to eat dinner out and use that time to write. Thank you so much for your input and well wishes. Best of luck with your writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good luck with the course. I hope you write that book (you said in your post at the end of last year that you know what you want to write about).
    Love, light and glitter

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think there’s way too much pressure on writing every day, when really it’s fine to just make time when you can do it. And I think it’s so important to make time for other things, especially self-care and sleep!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for your encouragement, Eliza. I’ve finished the rough draft, but I know I have lots of work ahead of me to get it polished and the best I can make it. Best wishes to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I agree with you. So many of the “how-to” books about the craft of writing — as well as author interviews I’ve read or seen — emphasize that you must commit hours to it every day. You must treat it as a job. At the age of 66, I don’t want a job. Been there, done that. Forcing myself to sit at the keyboard for a certain length of time each and every day would take all the joy out of writing for me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject.

    Like

  13. Thank you so much for reading my blog post and leaving a comment. I like the way you described your motivation coming in waves. That’s a good description of my experience, too. Motivation just doesn’t come every day, does it — so I need to stop feeling guilty on days I don’t work on my novel. Thank you for helping me work through that, Joanne.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What great post Janet. Sleep, sleep, sleep has always been a problem for me. At times in the past working under a dealine and filled with rivers of coffee I would go two or three days without it. When I wrote Fightding to Win I had a full time job–my own consulting business–taught two course at a university, helped raise four children, and wrote long hours. and on the weekends flew to Ann Arbor for work in a think tank. Slowed down now–work seeps out of me little ny little–no pressure.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Thank you, David, for the compliment! In my entire life, I don’t think I’ve gotten the right amount of sleep. Burning the candle at both ends as a young career-minded adult didn’t pay off and probably contributed to the health problems I have now. I like your phrase, “work seeps out of me.” That describes where I am. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

    Like

  16. Great post, Janet. I struggle with self-discipline. I have a full-time job but I have time that I could write but I sometimes feel so lazy. Similar to you, I am not a morning person. May God give us the strength to stay motivated on the job that He calls us to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I left this comment over at Kally’s, so I’ll re-post it here at the source too…

    Wow! Great article! As both “retired” and writing mostly recreationally, I’m in an entirely different category. And yet, except for the need to build a platform, everything else still applies. Self-discipline and developing beneficial patterns/habits are certainly helpful. But there’s definitely an aspect of self-love/respect and the acceptance of reasonable expectations that feeds into the ability to keep at any commitment.

    I’ll add here that I commit some high-priority time every day to staying in shape physically, and to stress-management. I’m very familiar with burnout and what it can do to a person, both physically and psychologically. And I think most of us are more productive when we feel good. I’ve also discovered audio-books for long drives or flights (I can’t read in an aircraft without taking so much Dramamine as to fall asleep). Still, and as a “morning person”, getting enough sleep can be an occasional issue. And that’s especially the case when the motivation is high.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Great to hear from you! I am pleased you liked my blog post. I appreciate your comments — especially the part about “the acceptance of reasonable expectations.” Wow! That’s the truth. I tend to expect more from myself than I can deliver, at least as quickly as I think I should be able to accomplish something. That’s insane of me because I’m only setting myself up to fail.

    I’m very much a “night person,” so I have trouble getting myself in gear in the morning to write. I’ve come to accept the fact that I can only write in the afternoons and evenings.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write such an insightful comment.

    Liked by 1 person

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