Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I'm So Keen on Discipline

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to live inside someone else's head.

I know that's not a particularly novel thought, but it still seems very true to me. It's literally impossible (with today's technology) to have any idea what it's truly like to be another person. Not what you see on the outside, not what the person says or does or how they act in various settings. But that constant interior monologue and those inner moods that you and only you can experience.

For me, all too often, that monologue and those moods would lead me into wasting time and other unproductive neighborhoods. I've been very fortunate in the past decade or so to have some good influences and also, in more recent years, to have read some helpful books specifically on the concept of happiness. Those things have helped, but they're not a panacea. I still have those innate tendencies that would have me utterly frittering away hours. Days. Weeks.

And this is why, for me, having discipline in my life is so important. I've talked about this before, but there are plenty of days on which I don't feel like writing. In fact, today has been one of them. And yet, here I am, taking the time to put these words down on the screen. And, for the moment at least, I feel good. I feel productive. The only interior monologue is the one that's helping me craft these words. Are they necessarily the most insightful words I've ever written? The more useful? Probably not. But I'm not giving in or giving up; I'm pushing through the temptation to do nothing and moving forward even if only incrementally. And perhaps someone else will read this and recognize themselves and find some benefit.

I'm finally using this approach for something other than just writing. There's a whole chapter in "Write Every Day" about using the philosophies and practices behind the Daily Writing Chain to develop a daily routine for other things in your life. I've recently managed to do just that for something relating to the small business my wife and I run and at this point, I'm up to almost 50 days on that other goal chain, though I did take one "mulligan" day on that chain during Pulpfest. (Still no mulligans on the Daily Writing Chain and that's up to almost a year now!) Again, that feels good.

And that's the truly frustrating thing -- getting these things done almost always feels good! I sit there and think "I don't feel like writing. I don't feel like working on the business. I'd much rather just sleep." But having the routine helps me to get past that and when I'm done I generally feel better than when I started.

In a way, I wish that I didn't need these tools. I wish that I would just naturally feel full of energy and directed towards my goals without that extra impetus. But, in the end, I suppose I'm simply grateful that I've found tools that work for me.


  1. "And perhaps someone else will read this and recognize themselves and find some benefit."

    Yep. Me.

    Some days, I'd rather do anything but write short fiction. That's why I'm so glad I have several different writing goals. I can choose the best one that appeals to me in that moment.

    Then there are the days where I don't want to write anything at all. And that's when the routine helps out A LOT. It's just something I do every day now, so my body knows I have to do it (just like my daily exercise routine). No choice. It has to get done...even if it's a bit painful.

    Some days are tough, and I have to remember that the reason anyone got big in writing is because of perseverance (and some talent, of course). Each day I persevere might be 'the big push' that lead to something really big. The rush of finding what's behind the next big push keeps me going.

    And my daily exercise routine keeps me happy.

    1. Yes indeed. The last thing I'd want to do is give up just short of hitting a significant goal/milestone/accomplishment.

      I can't source the stat/quote and I assume it's not a number based in science/surveying but more in philosophy, but I read somewhere not long ago that a very large percentage of people give up on something when they are on the cusp of making significant progress. They've reached the point where they're aware of their own deficiencies and haven't yet met success and just... give up. I could have very easily gone that route myself early this year but my routine and some assistance from friends and a few initial successes kept me going.

  2. Yes to all this. I've recently realised that the less I have to think about when I'm going to write, the more likely I am to just do it. This requires some planning and scheduling, but that is a small price to pay for actually getting it done.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting and hooray for getting it done!