Discipline not Distraction


When successful authors are asked to give advice to budding writers, they mostly say: write, write, write. In a recent interview I watched with Jackie Collins, she was asked the same question. Her advice was to write every day, even if it’s just a few hundred words. She went on to point out that those few hundred words add up over the months and after a year a novel would have been accomplished – well, the first draft at least. 

It’s not new advice and we all know it, but actually being disciplined and self-motivated enough to actually get down and do it is the challenging part. 

Due to a work commitment, I had to take a five month break from writing short stories. My spare time had to focus on editing my novel and non-fiction pieces. However, since August, life has resumed some level of normality and I now have the time to write stories that have been festering in my mind for a longer period. Easy? No! 

Somewhere along the way, my self-motivation and discipline have dwindled. This is a new experience for me. I have always been self-motivated, disciplined and I strongly believe that 'practice makes perfect'.

So, an action plan has been put in place to remedy my problem and thus far is working. I have committed to a scheme set up by Julie Day, a fellow teacher and blogger, and I am writing a short story every day of this month. My aim is to improve my writing discipline and regain a more productive routine. The scheme does not expect perfect stories but to get from the beginning to the end. This in itself will teach me the lesson of relinquishing the need to be perfect!

Even though it is only day two of my action plan, I am feeling better already. Being greeted early each morning by Susie the Sunflower, a ‘cheer up’ gift from my lovely husband, puts a smile on my face as I type those first words.

I would be interested to know what you do to stay disciplined.

NB: I am writing this blog post after having achieved my daily target.

Comments

  1. That's some challenge, and achievement so far, Nicola! All the best with the stories. I need to get more organised after my forthcoming trip to York at the weekend. I have lots of projects but need a bit of discipline. Love that photo!

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    1. It is a challenge, Rosemary but I am determined to write, write, write :)
      Thank you for dropping in to comment. Have a lovely time in York! I've only been there once, on a day out with mum. We found a wonderful fudge shop. I bet it isn't there anymore. Nevertheless, it's a lovely city. Enjoy!

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  2. It took awhile for me to become disciplined about my writing. I often wrote in chunks and then had periods where I didn't write. When the last one lingered about a year and a half, I knew I had to do something, so I applied a routine of writing for a short amount of time every day with the idea of increasing that time each month until I met my target goal. So far it's working much better than I thought. Plus, when I sit down to write with the timer going, I end up writing instead of putting a paragraph down and then checking Facebook, writing another sentence and then doing something else, etc. Those words really add up too over time. :)

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    1. Thank you for commenting and sharing your experience in detail, Cherie. I'm sure a lot of us out there can relate. I really like the timer idea - although, I really don't like Facebook so that's not a distraction for me, but blogging is :) I'm really pleased with my new action plan and have written 6000 words in two days. That's a record for me. Mind you, when I read them back, once September is over, I may find that half of it belongs in the waste :) Have a great week!

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    2. Even if the words don't end up in the final product, they are never a waste. Writing helps us grow, and that experience is worth all the words that never make it from those rough drafts.

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    3. Thanks for the encouragement, Cherie.

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  3. I hate rule #1

    Don't give up the day gig.

    I did. I'm not selling any books yet...but I have 28 novels on the shelf, assets for that majical day I'm an overnight success.

    Never would get there working 60 hour weeks at one job and trying to write on my free time.

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    1. I did the same, Mac, and totally agree that a 60 hour week job totally gets in the way of writing. I haven't written 28 novels yet though :) And by the way, you sold 2 books coz I bought them :) Have a great week.

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  4. Glad you're feeling better about it.
    Maybe if you wrote something for the IWSG contest? That would qualify and with the deadline, might motivate you.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. I will pop over to the IWSG page and take a look. Thank you for the tip. Have a great week!

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  5. It's odd how, even when we really want to write, it's so easy to get distracted. I've found noting down my daily word count helps - it stops me kidding myself I've been writing when I've just been wasting time.

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    1. I do that too, Patsy. It's great to see the word count rising as the week passes by. Hope you have a lovely rest of the week. Thank you for popping by to comment.

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  6. For every piece of advice given to writers someone will give you the opposite. So how about this from Henning Mankell, author of Wallander, - “I must avoid starting to write as a sort of routine. If I did that, I would have been caught in a dangerous trap. If that happened, readers would pay good money for a book and soon discover that the author had grown tired and was simply going through the motions.”

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  7. That's a good one, Lynne. Luckily, I am thoroughly enjoying my routine at the moment and am currently working on a new exciting story. As long as the excitement is there and I'm enjoying the company of new characters and writing well, it can't be a bad thing. I'm sure Mankell would agree. But I get the point and if a routine becomes a drag and arduous, that's the indicator to break the routine.

    One invaluable piece of advice my dear writing friend (you!) gave me was to stop trying so hard and enjoy the writing. I am following that advice and thoroughly enjoying my time at the keyboard. I'm not thinking, not trying to be perfect, I'm just writing :)

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  8. I'm glad you are feeling better, Nicola - I love your sunflower, which I am sure could never fail to make you smile.
    I think I stay self-disciplined because I want so badly to write, even if I delete it all the next day. The urge to write is what counts, not any self-imposed requirement to write perfectly.
    I would rather focus on the words themselves, rather than the number of words. I don't mind whether I end the day with twenty or two thousand words, as long as I have written.
    Enjoy every second, no matter what the word tally is. Writing is masses and masses of fun and pleasure, especially when you make yourself stop for the day just when it's really going well. Then you can't fail to want to rush back to it the next day. Wishing you endless happy writing days ahead. xxx

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    1. Thank you for the lovely comment, Joanna. I am thoroughly enjoying my writing at the moment. And the short story challenge is fantastic because I get to meet new characters every single day. Mind you, I do have limits when it comes to socialising and so if I become exhausted I will pull back and spend more time on my longer WIP. Have a lovely week of writing.

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  9. Wow, that's an impressive goal. I think we all need to find our own way when the writing stops for whatever reason. For me, I need to figure out if it's stopped because something is "mulching" as opposed to writer's block. And truthfully, I don't think I've ever had writer's block. As for motivating after a break, I do believe just putting words down on a page every day gets the juices flowing again. Yeah for you!!!

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    1. Thank you, Karen. Lovely to 'see' you! It's going well and I'm enjoying creating those words on a page. Thanks for the support.

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  10. Good for you. Word count goals help me with my progress. (I write novels, so I have to break it down.)

    Thanks for visiting my blog. :)

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    1. Thank you for popping by to comment, Melissa. Lovely to 'see' you. Have a great weekend.

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  11. That's excellent! It is the self-discipline part that is the hardest. Since my son started school, I've been able to make myself sit down and write every day. Some days are harder than others, but it's good so far. Love your little flower! I have one like it in my front window. :) Have a lovely weekend.

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    1. Thank you, Christine. Does your flower wave all day too? :) So pleased that you are writing each day. Makes all the difference doesn't it? Wish you a lovely weekend. All the best.

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  12. I'm very easily distracted!
    For me, it's the starting that's difficult. But I made a change earlier this year that has helped a lot. I begin with pen and paper and write in what I call NaNoWriMo mode - just telling myself the next bit of the novel or short story that I want to work on that day, and writing down the first words that come to me as fast as I can. I don't check the spelling or pause to find 'better' words or phrases. Then, when I switch on the computer to do my 'proper' writing, I don't have to waste time deciding how to start - and thinking I'll just check my emails/ have a look at my favourite websites/ play a game while I'm waiting for inspiration. I start by typing what I've already written. It's mostly rubbish, but now I'm working on the 2nd draft so I also edit as I go.
    A story a day is very ambitious, but good luck with it!

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    1. That sounds like a great method of working, Linda. What I've done to make sure I can sit and write each morning and complete the short stories is to write a brief plan the night before. It is going well but I need to fluctuate on the length for next week because I am totally exhausted after writing four 3000 word stories. It is a bit ambitious but if I alternate lengths from 500 flash to 1000 words to longer pieces then I should feel better at the end of the week. I'll let you know how that pans out.

      Thank you so much for popping by to comment. Have a lovely weekend.

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  13. Nicloa, How wonderful. Keep up the momentum. I sadly lack the organizational skills to fit writing in every day. I want to but I have to help with homework, I committed to being a beta reader, etc. You know all the things I put first, some of which I shouldn't.
    I look forward to hearing that you are sticking with your plan. You are an inspiration to me and I will be sure to write every day this weekend thanks to your blog!

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    1. Thank you so much for the support and encouragement!! It is hard going! (and I have no excuse as our daughter is all grown up and flown the nest.) A friend of mine who has children has worked out a plan and during the weekend and some evenings her husband takes over and a sign "mummy's working so ask daddy" is hung on her office door. I wish I would have had that idea :) Have a great weekend and I hope you enjoy some writing time. All the best.

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  14. I'm very impressed that you're writing a story a day, Nicola.

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    1. Thanks for popping by Wendy. It doesn't mean they are all brilliant though. The aim is to just have fun with writing. I have prepared myself for the challenge as much as possible so that I know what I am going to write each day. I am hopeless at just sitting in front of a blank screen without an organised idea. Wish you a lovely weekend.

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  15. Writing comes easier the more we do it. I'm in the middle of edits now, but I'm looking forward to entering the creative fresh-start phase again.

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    1. Good luck with the edits, Milo. And "viel spaß" with the new phase. Thank you for popping over to comment.

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  16. I have to write all day--but working my book in is a challenge. I do everything in rotation. I do one thing for each client, then I put myself in the rotation...so I'm doing one page for myself on each go-round!

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    1. That sounds like a great working plan, Stephanie. Thank you for popping by and sharing! Lovely to 'see' you.

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