Discipline

This year most of my goals revolve around one thing: discipline. In past years I have fallen off of the writing bandwagon. I have forgotten to blog for weeks on end, and I have failed to finish several projects. I have not made the amount of time for my writing that I should have. In short, I have not been disciplined enough.

But things are changing this year. This summer I turn eighteen and I will finally be old enough to sign a book contract. This year I have to put in the effort. This year I have to pull myself together and finish, edit, and submit. I have often said that I do not have a part time job because I spend the time I would spend at such a job writing. But this is only an excuse unless I am actually trying to make a living off of my writing.

My goals this year are much smaller than my goals last year, but they are also more focused. By the end of this year I want to have one novella out on submission and one novel about to be sent out for the first time. It’s time for me to stop procrastinating and start really writing. This is my career, this is my future and I have to take it seriously.

So how am I going to become more disciplined this year?

Breaking Down Big Goals

Breaking down big goals will allow me to focus on individual tasks-what I need to do right now rather than what I need to do by the end of the year. Preparing Moonshadow’s Guardian for submission doesn’t seem so daunting when I have a timeline for the big rewrite, the second rewrite, the final proofread and creating the query package. Having Some Secrets Should Never Be Known ready for its final proofread by next year seems just a bit easier when I have a timeline for pre-work, writing, and rewriting.

Break down your yearly goals into monthly goals. If you need to make even smaller goals, think about weekly goals and daily goals-for example, if you write a page a day, will you meet your monthly timeline? How about if you write a chapter or two each week? Writing two chapters a week, even if it means finishing your novel by the end of the month, doesn’t feel quite so daunting as ‘finish my novel by the end of the month’.

Changing My Mindset to Change My Life

Last summer I learned that there really is something to how you think about things, that it actually does influence your life’s course. I challenged many of my beliefs and I have become a better person because of that. I have overcome former weaknesses, though I will never be perfect. I have accomplished what I wanted and needed to accomplish.

This year I am going to do much the same thing with my writing. Here are some of the beliefs I have to challenge:

I don’t have time to write If I have time to go out and see my friends and plenty of time to spend with my boyfriend, I have time to write. I just need to spend less time socializing and more time writing. I have to make the time and I have to say no to last minute plans.

I won’t make a living as a writer until I’m old If I focus hard enough, if I truly dedicate myself to my craft, if I put in the effort, I can get published sooner rather than later. I am a good writer, and though I will always be learning, I know enough now to start making a career. And if I focus hard enough and I get published soon, I can probably be making a living off my writing by the time I’m 25.

I need more life experience to get published I’ve had a lot more life experience than many people my age. I have matured as a person and as a writer. I am quite capable right now. Life experience will always help make my writing better, but I can’t wait for life to happen. I need to make the writing happen sooner rather than later.

Paying Attention to Small Accomplishments

Giving yourself a pat on the back every time you accomplish something small is more productive than thinking about what you still have left to do. You may have heard the advice to live your life in the moment; well, to a point, writing should be much the same way. You should focus on the scene or page or chapter that you are working on rather than the whole book. Whole books are a lot scarier to think about.

Next time you finish your writing for the day, congratulate yourself. Think about what you’ve accomplished and how well you’re doing. Don’t think about the next day or the day after that. Just sit down with a cup of something warm and tasty and enjoy yourself.

Applying Butt To Chair

Any writer worth his or her salt knows that the most important thing about being a writer is applying your butt to the chair and actually writing. This is also the hardest part of being a writer. Calling yourself a writer and having great ideas are easy; sitting down and turning those ideas into stories is hard. There are a few things that I need to do to help myself apply butt to chair:

Spend more time at home Lots of writers don’t have this problem. There are many shy writers and I would go so far as to say that the majority of writers have problems socializing. Personally I am extremely social and though I don’t hang out with many ‘normal people’ (by society’s standards) I do hang out with a lot of people. I need to spend more time at home to ensure that I have time for both homework and writing stuff.

Take My Writing Seriously the other part of this is to make sure my friends take my writing seriously. I need to learn how to say no when I’m invited out. I need to make my friends aware that I do need time for writing. I don’t need to schedule specific writing time every day-but I do need to make sure that I have a little bit of time to write every day or almost every day.

Focus on the Dream When life gets me down and it gets hard to find time to write-or hard to write-I need to remember my dream. I need to close my eyes and imagine my future-preferrably in a little house somewhere near or on the cliffs of Scotland, writing books with a couple of cats and hopefully the same man I have now. I need to remember why I put myself through the pain of forcing words onto a blank page. I need to remember that it’s all worth it in the end.

This year I need to focus on becoming a real, professional writer. It’s time to stop messing around and start treating my writing like what it is-a career, a future. It’s time to be a little more disciplined. And when I am my future will fall into place.

How can you be more disciplined?

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About Dianna Gunn

I am a freelance writer by day and a fantasy author by night. My first YA fantasy novella, Keeper of the Dawn, is available now through The Book Smugglers Publishing.

Posted on January 28, 2011, in Novels, Writing, Writing: The Process and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Dianna, I had no idea you are so young – you definitely have the wisdom of an old soul. I started my writing career late in life – after life happened (marriage, children, corporate job) – and your listing of disciplins is excellent – exactly what I struggle with every day…and am excited to have accomplished when the day is over.

    You take your writing seriously, which is impressive for someone so young – BUT, so mature.

    Right now, I try to split my time by marketing ‘me’, through my blog, social networks, and yahoo groups – and by actually butt in chair writing my next novel.

    You will most definitely go far young woman – you are a natural author.

    • Kay Dee,

      Thank you so much. It means a lot to hear that coming from a published author instead of just my mom 😉 Writing is one of the few things I’m good at, and writing is more natural to me than not writing is. I can only go so long without visiting one of my stories-usually on one of my own worlds.

      My writing time is split between blogging and working on novels, but I have school and lots of friends to take up my time at any given moment. It’s hard sometimes. I look forward to the day that I don’t have to work anymore-or only have to work part time-so that I have more freedom to write. It’s a long way away, but I’m confident that I can get there.

      Thanks for reading,
      ~Dianna

      • You need to remember experiencing life gives you a whole lot to write about. You have lots of time for settling into the writing life.
        I’m excited for you at being so young and already so focused.

      • Experiencing life is definitely part of becoming a better writer, but I still have to focus on my writing. I do want to have work under consideration and maybe even under contract by the end of this year. I have to take my writing seriously in order to be taken seriously. I’m not in a rush to make a living off of my writing; I am trying to make the process quicker.

        My dream is to be able to live comfortably off of my writing-or at least to only need a part-time job-by the time I’m 25. It’s going to take a lot of work to get there and I need to make the time.

        Thanks for reading,
        ~Dianna

  2. About life experience, I’d say you have more of that than some people twice your age. You’ve always been the sort to go out there and do things. Sometimes things I would rather you didn’t do, or waited to do until you’re older and more mature.

    You’ve lived in a way that many people never do.

  3. Greetings!

    This is another great post on getting right to the goals. It’s funny. I periodically keep excusing myself from the “writer” category with standards like “it’s not my full time job”, “I don’t like to edit”, “it’s just for fun” etc etc. With that list about “what to do” I confess to having checks against two and a half of the boxes … that of getting butt applied to chair and spending time at home. I do take writing seriously (love the act of honing craft) but don’t in the sense that I really ever take the next steps – ie edit and submit.

    In other news, I may be starting a blog at work (for work). This is a radical development in my world. Having said that – I don’t think I ever would have been able to do this without nano, screnzy and you – Dianna – and your weekly prompts that were … among many other positive things for me … a proof of concept. Yes – I *know* I can write every week. : )

    The other key thing that this taught me is that I can take a random idea and make it into something readable in a short space of time. (ahem … waiting for this weeks …). It’s sort of like … um … improv?

    So … we shall see how this develops. I will keep you posted on the work blog developments. As with all corporate processes – I have to wait for others to design it and set it up etc etc. I keep telling them, just hack me an out-of-the-box solution. It’s the words that’s important, not the swish around it. : )

    In any event – I am hugely priveleged to know you and have access to you and your blog. : ) Thank you from the bottom of my heart. : ) ❤

    cheers!
    RP

    • RP,

      You are most certainly a writer. A writer writes, and that is the most important thing to remember. An author gets published.

      I hope the work blog goes well for you. A blog is a great opportunity for growth as a writer and in some ways as a person. You’re developing several skills, mainly those of writing and communication. It’s also beneficial on several levels for your company and I hope it goes well all the way around.

      I’m thrilled to have you as a friend and a reader too. And I’m thrilled to be able to know Elgin through your writing.

      Thanks for reading,
      ~Dianna

      P. S. Prompt is up, just a little late, sorry.

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