The Fiction Writing Process — For Beginning Authors #5 Your Inner Discipline Honor Code:
This is where the rubber meets the road. How badly do you want to be a writer… a successful writer? If you are seriously attempting this path you need to develop discipline. It’s not just important, it’s essential.
Before I became an author, I was a technical writer. I had to write 5 days a week, 6-8 hours a day. It was my job, and if I wanted the paycheck I had to write. Was it boring? You bet. But that job taught me the discipline of writing.
I sometimes write 7 days a week, but, at the very least I write 5 days a week. I get up at 5 am and start writing no later than 6 am and write until 11 am. Some days I write more, but hardly ever, do I write less.
I understand the machine that is Amazon (where I self-publish my books). The Amazon reader needs a book from me every 3-4 months, after that time period, I lose them. There is always another author who will deliver if I don’t, so I make sure I hit my deadlines. Getting some success is great, but in order to maintain that success, it takes discipline.
Let’s look at some issues that might come up as you embrace discipline:
We’ve all had writer’s block. It’s no fun, but there are ways to work through it.
Sometimes you may need to get up and take a walk or go for a drive. Clear your head and get a change of scenery.
Create an inspiring work environment. It could be your office, your dining room, your bedroom, your deck, or someplace else. Wherever you write, surround yourself with things that motivate you – art, books, vintage typewriters, your favorite pillow, etc… Every person will have a different space, make your workspace work for you.
Switch it up. Work in different parts of the house or go to your local library or coffee shop. A change of environment will bring different stimuli, and, hopefully, new ideas.
Don’t give into it.
I don’t know who came up with the term, “writer’s block,” but some may use it as an excuse to skip a day. The problem with that is… not the one day. The problem is one day turns into a week or a month, and before you know it, you have given up your dream of being a professional writer. If you treat your writing as a hobby, then that is what it will become. It’s entirely up to you.
Judging Your Writing.
Sometimes I write a chapter, and I know it’s terrible. But I get it down and change it later. It could be later that day, or the next day, but I put words down on the page. It’s okay not to write great prose every time. The truth is, it’s normal and expected. Try not to judge yourself. If you write through it you should actually feel great about yourself for sticking to your schedule. Write the words, unclog your mind. What can be found beyond the clogged mind may be gold.
Organize Your Time/Delegate.
Depending upon what stage you are in your writing career/ambitions, you may or may not have help. Personally, I like to use UpWork to enlist the help of freelancers. UpWork has freelancers from all over the world and they offer every kind of service you can think of…. editing, cover art, outline writing, book formatting, etc.
People on UpWork are hungry and willing to work for lower fees to build their resumes. I found some real gems on this site, so I would encourage others to, as well. You can even hire someone to brainstorm with.
You might be fortunate to have friends to talk to about book ideas, or maybe you hit the jackpot and have a mentor. Make time for them. Buy them a cup of coffee and soak it all in. Then, pay it forward… if not today, the next time you are in a position to help.
If hiring freelancers is not an option for you, I would suggest getting a whiteboard and organize your time. Try to do this a week at a time. Writing is one chunk of time, but make time for cover art, editing, marketing, and all the other tasks it takes to write/publish your book.
Take Care of Your Health.
This may sound irrelevant, but writing can take a toll. Sitting down and writing can be hard on your back and your nerves. It helps to have a stretching/exercise routine, getting enough sleep and eating healthy. I’m speaking from experience.
If you feel lousy, you will not want to work. You may think you have writer’s block, but your mind might be mushy because you’ve had a Big Mac every day for the past 14 days. Wean yourself off the bad stuff and work in a salad now and then. Before you know it, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start this healthy lifestyle sooner.
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