Monday, 23 February 2015

Writing as a Discipline

As a writer I also do a lot of reading. This comes with the territory and includes non fiction, as well as fiction, books and articles I have recently read an excellent article called Writing Through that Hangnail by Jill Jepson. In this she compares athletes and writers and the way in which they approach their respective disciplines. Athletes practice every day of the year, without exception, regardless of what is happening in their life at the time. It is as ingrained into their psyche, and as natural as, breathing. Do we, as writers, approach our craft in the same way?

This made me think about my writing and the way in which I approach it? Do I have an overriding passion which means my writing takes priority over most everything? Do I make excuses saying that the muse has gone on holiday so I can have one too? Am I easily distracted by such things as a broken nail, the carpet needing cleaned or next doors cat mewing too loudly? Actually in the case of the broken nail my nails are short and next door don't have a cat. But you get my drift. Am I easily pulled away from what I should be, and want to be, doing? Or am I like the athlete who stays focussed, mind on the goal, and trains to make sure he or she reaches that goal? If writing were an olympic sport would I train harder? 

In the case of writing there are many excuses which we can drag out of the ether to justify why we are not writing. For example a day doing research or a day spent marketing, or a day spent on social media interacting with fans of your books. Yep, I am sure we have all been there and done that. Find time for this, but still write. This is why we are called writers. 

Jepson makes a good point that athletes train through pain. She says many writers give up at the first sign of a headache. Is that me? Over the last week I have been ill. I tried my hardest to write every day even if I didn't write much. I am trying to set a discipline that means I write every single day. One day my temperature was so high that I was almost hallucinating. What I wrote didn't make a great deal of sense but I was writing. I was following a routine which would make me a writer. I don't want to be a writer who gave up at the first sign of a struggle.

As writers we need to develop an ingrained habit of writing. They say it takes only 21 days to form a habit and practice and repetition are key to success. So I intend to set a goal for my writing day, and I am going to reach that goal each day regardless of what else is happening. I am going to make writing as much part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth. I am going to be like the athlete who wouldn't dream of taking a day off.

There are a lot of questions in this blog. You may want to answer them in terms of your own writing discipline. Can you find the discipline to form a habit?

I hope all the writers who follow Bookaholic have found this post useful. See you all back here very soon.


  1. Oooh! Yes, am I willing to train through the pain? Good one, Wendy.

  2. Wendy found your blog on Google + Blogger communityThanks. This is exactly the discipline point I have been festering with. Fester. ..yep almost crazy but not there. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome Barbara. Glad you found the post useful

  3. I was like that the first 4 years of writing - up at 6 am every morning, no matter where I was (took my laptop everywhere, even if just going for one night). Wrote 3 novels,1 children's book and lots of short stories/pieces in 5 years. Then I started my 4th novel and realised I needed to do a lot more research (it's set in the Hebrides in the 1920s) so I took a year off creative writing. But research didn't call me out of my warm bed at 6 am the way novel and story writing had so I lost the habit and just never got back into that wonderful, every-day routine. Nowadays, I find I need to set aside whole days/weeks and 'go underground' to forge ahead. Sigh . . .

  4. You raise a good point Fran. It is so easy to lose a habit and so difficult to get back into it. I hope you find your groove again