The Discipline of Writing

I was reading over some messages from some followers on the internet, and one question struck me pretty deeply.

“A writer can gain knowledge, style and clarity, but how does one gain discipline in the craft?”

I read this late last night, and decided that it would be best to ponder my response. After all, we are all struggling with our own place in the writing world; we each have our own reasons for writing, and wanting to write, and to take it beyond that, and attempt to refine our skills through self-discipline was something I had never been asked. I can’t say that I am overly dedicated to the craft as I probably should be… so I didn’t want to just throw out any old answer.

Having given it some thought, my response was pretty simple. I said, “Two things: recognizing that writing is not a hobby, or a weekend warrior’s game; and having a strong sense of desperation.”

I may have said the first part to get some attention; but the second part is absolutely true. For a lot of writers, the craft of writing is something that they dabble at, or attempt at doing. However, somewhere in there between writing down a whimsical story in afternoons, or in the few precious hours we have after work is not the same as truly sitting down and pushing ourselves to write a novel, or composition from start to finish. I’m not making light of those that do write only when they have the time, but when it goes from being a hobby to a job, then it needs to be approached as such, and understood as such.

Writing for me is an act of desperation. From the first word, to the very last word. I am hammering out a path in my future that I willfully want to happen. I won’t eat, or have money for my family, to say nothing of bills if I don’t push it to happen. No one else is going to write this book for me; no one will stand over my shoulder and lead me through the hard parts, and coach me to do better. The burden of responsibility rests solely on my own shoulders.

At some point, it stops being a hobby, and becames the career. For many of us, that alone is the nudge that we need to be self-disciplined. That is the straight and narrow, and that is the defining point.