Friday, August 24, 2007

Discipline and the author

One of the most important habits any author can develop is self-discipline. Let's face it -- nobody but you can put your words down on a page. Editors don't buy unfinished books (or at least writers don't 100% of the advance).
Cultivating discipline is difficult. It means Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. It means foregoing that film because you have not finished your quota of words. It means accepting that sometimes one writes nonsense even though it can feel like pure poetry when first written. It means keeping a clear head and knowing that one is only as good as the last book.
In order to be a writer, you have to put words on the page. It is no good staring out into space and dreaming. Writers are measured by the way their words shape dreams. Or their dreams become words.
Yesterday, my self-discipline went out the window. Nothing very much was done. Occasionally, this is good, but it also means that it is usually time for the Crows to flock and the muse to start packing her bags. So I am back at it today even though the sun is shining and there are a thousand other things I would rather be doing including reading the Julia Quinn or Amanda Quick books that have just arrived from Amazon. Anne MacAllister's latest was devoured yesterday. If you haven't got your hands on Spence and Sadie, do. It is a great guilty pleasure read. Waterfalls as showers -- yum.
It is the discipline of showing up and making sure I write my words that will get this book finished and in on time. Nobody is cracking a whip but me and this can frighten some people. For me, it is all rather liberating.


Unknown said...

Good luck focusing :-)

Jen Black said...

Happily nobody's cracking a whip over me yet, so I took yesterday off and enjoyed it. Our good summer days are too rare to waste. I tell myself a say off recharges the muse batteries....I can hear your hollow laughter!

Donna Alward said...


In our editor's absence, I am willing to take up whip-cracking.