Friday, 14 January 2011

Learning Discipline - (Almost) Daily Writer

As you may have noted in my Weekly Goal post, my writing goals are quite modest. Much modest if you compare it to my usual word count goals. 300 words on working days, and 1000 words on weekends - that is certainly achievable.

Why the modest goals? I could probably do more on many days. But the point is, not every day.

Finally I seem to have learned the lesson from 2010. Okay, I probably knew this before, but the message seems to have sunk in at last.

The message: Focus on discipline of daily habit, rather than just the goal

I will admit, I am not at all satisfied with 2010 in terms of my writing. It was a disappointing year, and I didn't meet majority of my goals. I want this year to be different. And I realise what my error was. I was focusing on big goals. I had ambitious goals. And that's good - we need ambition, and big goals. But I didn't keep up with the discipline.

I kept changing my goals, and when not satisfied with one draft, I got stuck in a rut. That has to change. While I am not at all in favour of submitting work that you know is not good enough, there is no point in getting stuck over it. I am a writer, and so I should be writing at least for the majority of 365 days.

It won't be everyday. I know that. Some weeks I will spend brainstorming, some weeks, just editing. But I need to spend more days doing the actual writing. That's why modest goals. Little goals. Daily goals.

These are the goals I KNOW I can achieve EVERY DAY. Even if I miss one day - like this week when I was so exhausted, I feel asleep - I know I can make up for it the next day. That is not to say that I will not write more if I feel like it. More is fine. That's overachieving. But the key thing is to meet the goals, because in the long run, over the course of the entire year, it's the little, daily goals that will produce more productive results than writing frenzies of 10K per day on random weekends.

So I will save my frenzies for NaNo, but day to day, the lesson I am trying to teach myself is to be disciplined. Without discipline, talent or hard-work are not going to amount to much.

It's been a good start so far, but the year has barely started, so really hoping that I won't drop off the Discipline Wagon. And if I do, you guys feel free to yell at me.

How do you deal with issue of discipline? Are you one of those people that are naturally disciplined? Or did you have to teach yourself? How did you manage it? Or are you a constant struggler at it, like I am? Share your troubles and triumphs.


  1. I used to be less than focused – I could spend weeks thinking on my writing without actually writing, and then I would have some days of intense writing, and then some more of… nothing. So my novel hardly advanced, and that was very frustrating, as it is a rather long novel which requires a lot of work and patience.

    So last year's NaNo came. It felt so good imposing myself the discipline of the daily count that I didn't stop in December. Nor in January. This time I've learnt that I need to keep myself accountable in order to produce steadily. Having to meet a daily word count gives me a clear goal each day, a small challenge, and for me it works better than to have a big goal set somewhere in the far future.

    I know that some parts need extensive editing, and some days I feel a bit down because that day's writing is less than good, but then I tell myself that it is better to write badly than not to write. It is from my mistakes that I can learn something!

    So here I am now, with a daily goal and, slowly but surely, approaching to the end of my novel. And it feels great. At least, I feel that I am advancing. Writers write, don't they?

  2. Your thoughts on that topic seem very similar to mine ... with the only difference, that I'm not calling it 'discipline'. Discipline is for me the equivalent of 'hard work' and honestly, who wants to do hard work regularly!? Instead I call it a matter of 'balance'. Balance is smooth, relaxing, probably even fun! That's a thing I want, I love to do!

  3. Do I struggle with discipline? Oh, boy, do I ever! I'm a natural born procrastinator and I get distracted easily.

    NaNoWriMo actually helped me become more disciplined. It taught me to push forward no matter what and focus on what I'm doing. That's not to say I go for the quantity vs. quality when I'm not doing NaNo, but I'm spending far less time staring at a blank screen or worse, playing games when I should be writing.

    I like your idea of setting smaller, more easily obtained goals. :-)

  4. Great post. I'm pretty disciplined just because I enjoy the writing process so much and my goals are always lurking around for me to think about!

  5. This is a good post! Not sure how I deal with discipline... I guess I just try and writer as often as I can. I don't make any goals, but I seem to be getting better at revising, so that will leave more time for actual writing. Good Luck!