Sunday, April 5, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Discipline

So... I know this might be the way to madness, but I never (ever ever never) schedule my A to Z Challenge posts. I really do, and always have, write all of them off the cuff on the day they're supposed to go live. (Or, in this case, as soon as possible after.)

It's a system that works for me.

Usually. Yesterday my internet connection went just as I was preparing to open my editor page to get this post written. Luckily it's on now, though. So I'm quickly writing this while hoping that the connection holds.

Continuing my theme of Things Writers Should Know About Writing, I'm back to my old habit of destroying dreams and sharing unwanted reality checks.

This one's a biggie.

A lot of people (and I will, if the internet holds, devote an entire post to them) think that writing a book is this wonderful trail with bunnies and unicorns and inspiration and stuff. They think that every morning, writers hop up out of bed saying:

"Oh boy! My heart is all a-flutter because I am inspired to write! I love this book to death, so fa-la-la-la-la write writerly write write write. Oh look! I finished another story. Query!"

The reality, I fear, usually is something closer to this:

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” 

Dorothy Parker

Not very bunnies and unicorns, is it? 

That's because the rest of humanity thinks of muses as these smiling kind creatures. And they think that writers are blessed among men because they get to have a love affair with their muse. 

The reality... 

Very. Very. Different. 

Writers' relationships with their muses tend to be more love/hate. We love them to death, but sometimes we'd really just like to kill them. 

So no, it's not inspiration that gets us through the story. It's not love either, I'm sad to say. (Although writing without loving your story sets your story up for failure anyway.) Even if you love your story idea, it's not going to go anywhere if you're going to wait for some sort of magic moment when all the stars align and your muse decides s/he likes you after all. Trust me. That is the road to madness. 

No, dear. Discipline is what finishes stories. Sitting down and writing even when you're suddenly in love with a new idea (because your bitch of a muse has seen it fit to "inspire" you with something different. Don't do it. It's a trap.) Even when you feel like watching cute kitties on YouTube. Even when you don't see bunnies and unicorns on your writerly road today. (Because let's face it, you won't for most of your writing days.) 

Have you written lately? No? Then what the heck are you doing on the internet? Go now. Go go go. 

Every second you don't, I'm shooting a plot bunny. 


  1. Parker's advice is hilarious!!!
    Sometimes, you're not in the mood to write. Doesn't matter - write anyway.
    Sorry about the Internet connection.

  2. One of my favorite writing-themed comics is this:
    It's the muse we all need.

  3. Love this post! It's so true, and it's something I've definitely learnt the hard way. When I first starting writing, I thought that I would wake up every morning, write 5,000+ words a day, and have an agent by the end of the month. Hahahaha, no. Discipline is definitely key! I also tend to fall into the trap of falling in love with a new story when I'm supposed to working on something else, but I am getting better at ignoring that particular voice in my head!

  4. I was very late with my third zombie book. Yeah, I have to follow a writing schedule, or I won't get the books out.

    Precious Monsters

  5. Love this post and that quote! Ah, if only someone shot me when I was that happy. I completely agree that discipline finishes stories not inspiration.

  6. That may be the best advice for new writers ever written, lol. It is not a rose paved road full of sunshine. It is worth it though.

  7. Great post. I like your A-to-Z theme. Discipline is important in most things.

  8. Excellent post - full of truthful advice (except for the bunnies). I love Dorothy Parker & every one of her dark and humorous quotes. Discipline finishes stories. How right you are. Discipline and dedication (hey another D word). Thanks for the tips and hope your internet connection stays with you.

  9. Love this and such absolute truth.

  10. Alex, that write anyway tip is so important to learn. We rarely do feel like writing.

    Hahaha Tanya I love that one too. Have it on my computer.

    Rachel, it's definitely a learning curve. It might sound funny, but I've actually taught myself not to write that many words a month. Basically, it's to prevent me from burning out.

    Thanks, MRR.

    Jolie, I'm similar to you in that. I have a schedule, or I'd putter along at a snail's pace.

    Thanks for stopping by, Christine. :-)

    Brandon, so so so worth it.

    Thanks, Shawn!

    Sadly, Melissa, it didn't. But you know what? Such is life.

    Thanks, AC!


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