I don’t feel like writing today. I didn’t feel like it at all yesterday when I was so obsessed with the election I couldn’t write ten minutes without going back to check the news. Like I knew there’s no news worth reading on election day until the first polls close. I already know there will be lines at the polls, and some of them way too long. I know already there will be a 106 year old woman in a wheelchair somewhere who will be voting for the first, or twentieth, time. I even know there will be some interesting story like the 85 pound dead salmon found in Oregon. Yes, I read that one. Every single word. And my writing tally for the day (email doesn’t count) was a whole 576 words.
That is NOT the Big D word.
Today I have finally let some of the euphoria and enthusiasm seep away, and even have channeled it into my story. But that is also not the Big D.
We can say whatever we want about why we’re not getting our writing done, but it still comes down to one thing: Discipline. I’m not good at that. When writing’s fun, and new, and creative stuff just flows out, it’s hard to see that discipline is important. How could anyone not want to keep writing? But writing is not always new, fun, and it’s often very hard and frustrating. Easy ways out can be tempting. But if we really are career writers, there’s only one path to success. We must write. Whether it’s hard or not, we must do it. It’s our career. It may be our second career, but it’s our career if we choose it.
So at this late stage in my life, I am re-learning, yet again, that Discipline is my weakness, the hardest thing for me to learn. I forgot that over all those years on the out-of-home job. I did that because that was what had to be done to keep the job flowing. And it really looks a lot different when I am sitting at home and I ask myself, “If I quit right now, would anybody really notice?”
Well, the answer to that question is, “They might notice for now, but pretty soon they wouldn’t notice. For there are plenty of other authors and their books who will soon capture their attention and absorb them.”
That, though, is not really the question. The question is, “Am I a writer? Or am I just someone who likes fooling around with the keyboard and screen?” If I am a writer, then I must write or I don’t deserve to call myself one. And although I know far more than I ever did before how tough a job it is, it is still the job I want most to do. I’ve earned the right to take on this tough job. I fought for it. I saved for it. I scrimped and will scrimp again because it’s also an extremely poorly paying way to make a living. But I chose it because I wanted it.
Discipline. That is what I most need to do the thing I most want to do. So that is my goal. Not to pump myself up with false bravado or enthusiasm. Not to fly on the fuel of inspiration, wonderful though it can be. That doesn’t last long enough and it tends to fade the minute a tough spot comes along. It’s too easy for the pin prick of self-doubt to deflate the balloon of inspiration. But the more I write and the more I stick with my plan to write every day on schedule, the less self-doubt can inflict itself on me. Writing is my job, and I need on-going discipline to do it because it’s the one thing that can carry through, keep me going in good times and hard ones.
My goal is the Big D.