Friday, June 22, 2007

No Excuses!

Having frittered away much of the morning already, I thought this would be an opportune time to write about Discipline. That old adage about the teacher being the student, you know. So here we go.

When you work in the comfort of your own home, sometimes in the comfort of your bathrobe, it is really easy to slack off and produce NOTHING on any given day. That's why writers are constantly faced with the dreaded D word - Discipline. There are plenty of different ways to deal with this. Probably as many as there are writers.

Some subscribe to the "Pages" approach. You must produce five pages a day. Or ten. Or whatever number best fits your writing style and your time schedule. I once heard a published author speaking about a friend of hers who had been writing the same book for many years. The friend called and told the writer she'd written an entire paragraph that day. A paragraph! That's not anything to get excited about. To which the woman replied, "But it's a really good paragraph!"

I'm trying to imagine a universe in which one good paragraph trumps ten average pages of output. No, I think not.

Hemingway used the "Words" measure. He had to write 700 words before he could go down to the bar on Duval Street. I've adopted that goal and call it "doing my Hemingway" when I make the 700 mark. But I challenge myself to keep going. I really want to write over a thousand a day, but after 700, I'm on the downhill slope. I don't, however, get to go drinking at Sloppy Joe's afterward.

That's probably a good thing.

But whatever method you choose, the important thing is that you choose something and stick to it. A long time ago, I heard Nora Roberts speaking at an RWA conference on this very subject. (No, I didn't invoke her name to encourage google hits, but if it happens...) She said it aggravated her when people told her, "I'm going to write a book some day when I have time." As if time were the only thing it takes to write a book.

Nora's advice for teaching yourself discipline was borrowed from that well known athletic ad campaign.


Sorry, that's the truth. There is no magic answer. The only way to get any writing done is to plant your butt in the chair, place your hands on the keyboard, AND JUST DO IT.

So now I'm off to Do it. Just.

What I'm reading - Play It Again by Stephen Humphrey Bogart

What I'm listening to - Elliott Yamin

Have a great weekend!

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