Thursday, April 3, 2014

Discipline vs. Compulsiveness

I’ve addressed part of this subject before in this blog, but it’s worth revisiting. In the world of writing there is always more that we can do to improve our craft, write another story, go through another editing pass, do one more event, post something else on social media or activate one more promotional idea. We can easily fill up twenty-four hours with things we should do for our writing career.

So what’s the answer on maintaining the discipline of our writing world while not becoming compulsive? All I can do is share my own experience. I’m a disciplined writer. When I began writing in 2001 while still working full time, I came across a technique in Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way, called Morning Pages, which I adapted to serve my writing needs. Every morning I reviewed where I had left off the day before in my writing and then wrote three hand written pages to continue the story before going off to work. When I came home from my day job, I entered these pages into the computer, doing an editing pass along the way. This produced approximately two typed pages. If you do the math, in one-hundred-fifty days, I’d have the rough draft for a three-hundred page novel. In fact, I used this technique to write my first three published novels. When I retired in 2007 to writ full time and being a morning person, I changed my process and wrote directly into the computer every morning, saving the afternoon for administrative and promotional activities.

I write nearly every morning. I say nearly because if we’re visiting our kids and grandkids or if I’m doing a morning event or conference, I don’t write.

I’ve been fortunate to have seven novels published with three more in the contract negotiation and publication queue. I also have a number of unpublished manuscripts that I’m shopping.

My challenge is to keep writing in perspective within my life. After I had a heart attack last September, I lay in the hospital reviewing all the things I had committed to. I went through the list and chopped. One example, I was on twenty-two reader/writer Yahoo loops. I slashed this back to six. I resigned from two volunteer positions and cut back on other areas of over commitment.

What I’ve learned is to temper my discipline. My compunction to be on my computer writing right after breakfast has changed. I may get interested in a program on the History Channel while eating breakfast and watch for another half hour. I’m not forgetting my writing, but I’m no longer being compulsive about it. I could easily force myself to not get up from my computer chair until I’ve written so many pages or so many words. Now I write for several hours and accept that as a successful morning’s work.

The answer for me as in so many aspects of life is balance.

No comments: