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.
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?
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.
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
4. Reading Time
All four things I listed above require self-discipline. What I’m seeking is a balance of self-discipline and self-love. What part does motivation play?
Making time to write
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.
Update: I try to write every day — whether it’s future blog posts, historical short stories, or my novel.
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.
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.
Update: This is an ongoing task for me. I probably need to review my class notes.
I have a medical condition that messes 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.
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.
Update: Since writing this in the summer of 2019, I’ve gotten my sleep schedule under control! This was a major accomplishment for me. It has helped me in all aspects of my life.
Making time to read
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.
Update: With my sleep under control, I’m finding more time to read. I continue to hear about more books I’d like to read than I’m able to read. I wish I could read faster!
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read.
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.