Sunday, April 10, 2011

Self Discipline *Gulp*

Self Discipline: [self-dis-uh-plin, self-]
–noun discipline and training of oneself, usually for improvement

This is a skill that I value oh so highly, both in others and myself. If you have self discipline, you get things done; aka you succeed. Unfortunately, to most people this skill does not come easy especially when it comes to writing. The lack of self discipline is, in my humble opinion, the number one reason that books end up half written, blogs end up dormant, and other writing projects get buried in a dusty drawer. You get a wonderful idea for a novel while standing in line at the supermarket, then develop it, and start writing, but a month later it's in that dusty drawer. There are some of the reasons why that happens, how you can avoid it, and ultimately learn some self discipline:

1. You Get Distracted
Let's start with an example of distraction

You sit down at your computer, log into Facebook, or your preferred form of social networking. Then you open your story file or start a new post for your blog. Stare blankly at the page for a moment, than start to type. *DING DING* Oh look, Joe Blow has just signed in, and he's said "hi!", so like the good friend you are you minimize your writing file, and reply. One thing leads to another, than an hour later you're still chatting, and you writing has gone untouched. When your friend finally has to go you decide to take another crack at writing, except now it's time for dinner. You shut the computer down and leave.

This has happened to me more times than I care to count, and I'm sure the similar has happened to you too. If you want to succeed with your writing, you must treat it with the same amount of respect you'd show if you had company over to your home. When you have people over at your house you don't read a novel while they're talking to you, or you don't text someone during dinner. Well, at least I hope you don't! Anyways, you give your company your complete and undivided attention. That's the sort of attention you should give your writing if you want to finish it. So that means, not logging into a social networking site while you're writing, and closing other windows that don't have anything to do with your work. I'm not going to lie, it's harder than it sounds but the results are excellent!

2. Lack of Schedule

Just like at school you need to schedule your writing time. Think about it this way, if you didn't have to go to math class every second period, and you could just drop in anytime unannounced or not go at all; what would happen? I know for me I would keep going at first because I know it's good for me, but I would miss a day here, and than skip another there. Eventually, I wouldn't be going to math class at all. The same happens with writing. When you write without any schedule, you tend to just keep letting it slip until you aren't writing at all. That's why it's so important to have a general time (ex. after supper for an hour) or a set time (5:00pm) when you will write without distractions (refer to number 1). Obviously, there will be times when you can't write in the time you schedule because of other commitments, and general chaos of life. When that happens just reschedule your writing time. I know making a writing schedule seems a little OCD-ish, but it really is helpful. That is if you have the self discipline to stick to it.

3. You get Bored

This is a classic reason. You start writing, than you get another brilliant idea for another story. I've got a friend, I love her to pieces, and she is a pretty good writer, but she is a sucker for this reason. She often says, "I'm going to shelve this idea, and work on it later" because she's gotten another great idea. Needless to say the "great idea" ends up getting shelved too, and she can never seem to get anything done. The danger to this is pretty apparent; one can't stick with something long enough to put an actual dent in it, because you are convinced that the next idea will be bigger and better. You've got to have persistence when writing. That means coming up with an idea and sticking too it! However, that doesn't mean no adjusting or styling to that idea, more on that in a second though!

The big question is "What do I do with that new idea?" That is where I recommend the "style or store" method. Styling is when you work bits your new idea into your old idea. For example, you've got a story where the main character has to search for a valuable jewel to save his family. Your new idea, you want to have a gang of thieves who all get captured and have to have some sort of jailbreak. The way you could style to new idea in could be something like this: while the main character is searching for this jewel he encounters a gang of thieves that he needs to break out of jail because one of the thieves has the key to the safe the jewel is in. The style method gives you the opportunity to use bits of your new idea, so that all the work you've done on the old idea doesn't go to waste. Styling ultimately enriches the story.
The other side of the "Style and Store" method is the "store" part. This simply means that you write the idea down somewhere for future use, so that you can use it for another story another time.

All of these suggestions that I've made to help you keep on track with your writing all take a little thing called self discipline. As hopefully you've seen by this post it's an absolutely necessary thing to possess if you intend to be a successful writer. It might seem like a hard thing to master, and it is. However, if you love whatever you're doing, whether it's writing or not, you will find value in the results of learning self discipline. Plus, you'll have a completed project to go along with that discipline!


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