Welcome to the first in what will be an ongoing, but spontaneous series on my blog called “The aspiring writer: Essential tips for ambitious writers”. I’ve decided to title posts that relate specifically to aspiring writers so they can be easily found. The Aspiring Writer series will be a collection of my thoughts and experiences on my writing journey. Thoughts and experiences that I can share to not only encourage and inspire other writers, but to also keep it real. After all, my journey is only in its infancy, but we all have to start somewhere right? If you’re an aspiring writer in any way, shape or form, I hope you enjoy, and of course, feel free share with others.
The Aspiring Writer: Essential tips for the ambitious writer
Today, I want to talk about the D word.
It’s the most common thing I hear other writers, most particularly published writers, speak about. Natasha Lester, Allison Tait, Fiona McIntosh; they all cite discipline as one of the most important traits an aspiring writer needs to succeed. Only a disciplined writer will ever reap the rewards of one day publication, and ongoing success.
I often wonder why it is, the first time we hear advice that we nod our heads and agree. Yet, in the next moment it is all but forgotten. Sure, it may sit there in the back of our mind, nagging away, tapping you on the shoulder in a sheepish voice reminding you why you nodded the first time, but we ignore it.
I’m sure there are myriad psychological reasons why we don’t take on advice the first time we hear it. Perhaps it’s just the learning process, or our personality type, or maybe it’s a flaw in our genetic make-up or just plain stubbornness. I don’t know.
What I do know, is that for me, it’s sunk in. I now realise fully, 100%, the only way to be a successful writer, that is, one that gets things finished, finds an editor, finds an agent and finds a publisher, is through absolute discipline.
So what does discipline mean for the aspiring writer?
- Making time for writing. Actually scheduling it in and committing to being at your desk/laptop at a certain time each day.
- Setting daily writing goals. It might be a word count, a time limit, a commitment to writing a scene or a chapter; whatever your daily goal, stick to it. But also, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t achieve it. Tomorrow is a new day.
- Setting longer term writing goals. What do you want to achieve with your writing? Do you want to finish a first draft? Finish the editing and rewriting process? Complete your book to a publishable standard ready for submission to agents? Have your long term goals in place, as this will drive your daily writing goals.
- Giving up distractions. Social media, the Internet, TV, social events. If you’re serious about your writing goals something has to give, and the best things to go are the unimportant things. The activities that suck your valuable writing time. When you get rid of these distractions, you will free up so much time for your writing and you will be energized to commit.
It also means NO EXCUSES.
Bringing discipline into your writing life is a huge commitment, but a necessary one. I like to remember the famous Jim Rohn quote:
There’s not a truer word spoken.
So now, I’m no longer going to simply listen and nod my head when writers speak of discipline. I’m going to do it.
Are you disciplined when it comes to writing?
What’s something you could give up or reduce today to make more room for your writing?