November 4, 2012

Discipline

Writing isn’t about getting hit in the head by inspiration. It isn’t about finding your muse, and it isn’t about living the glamourus life of the always suffering and slightly alcoholic writer. Although it can probably be for some, in which case I think you should skip this text as it will only make you sad and shatter your illusions.

Writing is about discipline.

If you want to be a writer you need to write. Excuses won’t get you anywhere with writing. So when you put off writing for a day because you’re not feeling inspired, you’re basically fooling yourself. Sure, some days the words come easier than others, but deadlines wait for no man, and writers write.

This month is National Novel Writing Month and chances are you’re as mad as me, writing a novel in 30 days. The only way to accomplish this is to write every day. Sure, you can miss a day or two and catch up, you might even be forced to because of things beyond your control (which does not include hangovers), but you should definitely plan to write every day. This is the hands down most important lesson that NaNoWriMo can teach aspiring writers:

Write. Every. Day.

That requires discipline, because your friends want to go out drinking after work and you know you’ll get home late. Your family wants to enjoy your company and have cozy dinners. Videogames wants to be played, your body want exercise, books wants to be read, movies wants to be watched, albums (yes, they still exist, shut up I’m old ) wants to be listened to.

You’ll have to pass on all that, to some extent. Set a daily writing goal, and stick to it. It matters less if your goal is a number of words, or to sit down and write for a set period of time. You’ll no doubt tweak this writing goal anyway, tune it to make it fit into your life. The important thing is that you set your goal, and that you stick to it. It’ll become a habit, and that makes it easier to sit down to write on days when you’re not feeling like it at all.

Writers need discipline, and that needs to come from the inside. Having someone else tell you to go write might help, but in the end it is all about you and your words. There are no excuses, no inspiration that will sweep in and save you, no muses. There is only discipline, and the writer trusting his or her skill. The sooner you get that, the easier writing will be.

Thoughts? Let @tdh know on Twitter, or find me elsewhere. There is also a newsletter.