That awful word keeps popping into my head. 'Which word?' you ask. Discipline, of course. Without it nothing gets done. And when it comes to writing fiction, or even non-fiction, the poet was wrong - Man/Woman IS an island. I mean, no one else is going to do it for you.
Do you remember when someone taught you to ride a bike, and they held on to the back and then let go, but you didn't know they'd let go, until you started talking to them and they didn't answer? Because they were at the other end of the street. And you turned around to see what was going on, and there was the person who'd been keeping you safe - waving from MILES away? So now you were on your own, keeping yourself safe (or not). How terrifying is that? Well, in a way, Discipline, ie; self discipline, is like trying to stay upright on a bike while it's speeding down the hill, and no one's holding on to the seat. It's terrifying.
At school your teachers tell you that you have to finish your work at a certain time or on a specific date, or you don't get a mark - well, maybe an 'F.' Not the kind of mark you want. Your parents tell you that you have to do something and if you don't do this thing there'll be no ice cream, or trip to the zoo, but if you do this very important thing, great riches will be yours. Do your homework and you'll get a better mark than if you didn't. Practice accordian three hours a day and you can play sea shanties to entertain the neighbours for hours, or until they beg you to stop. Somehow, between teachers and parents, you are kept on track, working towards worthy goals. Someone is teaching you self Discipline in preparation for the day when it's just YOU. Then, one day you go off to college and there's no Mom or Dad to remind you to spend two hours on your essay, or to explain to the prof. that the goldfish ate your homework, or that Grandma lined the canary's cage with it, by mistake. The prof. doesn't care. S/he just wants to see results. No one is holding the seat as you peddle down the highway of life. No one is reminding you. No one is saving you. Well, so it is with writing. You are on your own - which is really the way it should be.
So, now back to ME. At this moment my head is full of all the possible twists and turns in the plots I'm working on. Or, actually not working on, because I'm in 'low self discipline' mode, as in, not actually writing anything down, or using my computer to its full potential (finishing a story, working on one of the short novels, etc.) This is the problem we all face. On the positive side my trouble isn't Writer's Block. As usual, it's just the opposite. My head is so full of stories, plots changes of direction that I can't quite focus on one. 'This too,' you are probably saying, 'will pass.' I know it will. I just needed to imagine I heard someone say it.** However, when the chips are down it's up to me. Right now I need to go to bed, but tomorrow night, after I get home from work, the gym and grocery shopping, I'm going sit right here at the computer and write what's in my head, for at least two hours. Because if it stays in my head, well what's the point?
Discipline, Joan. Discipline!
And that goes for the rest of you out there.
p.s. **Let's imagine we hear our parents or teachers of yesteryear, telling us to, 'switch off that t.v. and get working!'