Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Ongoing and Desperate Search for Discipline

by Jackie King

Discipline is something that I must strive for each day. This admirable character trait doesn't come naturally to me. Sitting or lying quietly, my head in the clouds, making up stories; comes naturally. I have always had imaginary friends and enemies living inside my imagination.

No matter how far back I look (and I can remember back to about the age of two) this was my entertainment. We had no TV, nor even a radio. No one had television, and we were too poor to afford a radio. We borrowed books from the library, but owned none of our own. I told myself stories each morning as I awakened and each night as I dozed off. This was my normal.

Later I realized that if I wrote these stories down on paper, edited them carefully, then I could earn money. But the writing down on paper (or keying them into a computer) is a process that requires discipline. And discipline, as I told you in my last post, isn’t a natural inclination for me. But it’s a very necessary quality for any writer who wants to earn a living.

When I first quit my day job (also called retirement), I worked out a system to brainwash myself into writing first thing in the morning. I was already accustomed to putting on my makeup and going to work. Figuring that, like Pavlov’s dog, I was already conditioned by this routine; I continued to put on my war-paint, sit down before my computer, and key in the stories.

This worked very well until (after 40 years in the same house) I decided it was time to move. The motivating factor: If I didn’t have to cook, wash dishes, clean, and see about the upkeep of my 4-bedroom house, I’d have more time to play with my imaginary friends.

At least that was the plan.

Alas, as every writer knows, even the dullest of life’s tasks can become a siren song, luring a girl away from her keyboard. Address have to be changed, pictures cry to be hung on white walls, untidy drawers seem to become an urgent task. Even to even to a woman with a vast tolerance for dust bunnies, such temptations arise.

This could be called Writer’s Block, but that would be a lie. It’s nothing but a pure lack of self-discipline.

I may be a slacker, but I try not to lie…at least not to myself.

So in my ongoing struggle for discipline, I have decided to use my posts to record my progress. If anyone in cyberland feels a kinship to this sort of problem, whatever it is that you struggle with on a daily basis, I’d like to know about your stumbling block. Doesn't matter if it's exercising, dieting, controlling your temper, let's work together. Perhaps we can start a sort of Discipline-Challenged Anonymous.

Let me know what you struggle with on a daily basis and your progress. I want to know that I’m not the Lone Ranger here in Okie Land.




Marilyn said...

Jackie, I go through the same sort of thing fairly often, but I consider it more a matter of disruption than discipline. When my schedule gets changed by babysitting the grandson, doctors' appointments, illnesses, taxes (ugh!) or whatever, I have a really tough time getting back in the flow. I have to relearn or restructure my routine, and it takes me a while to settle in again.

When I'm trying to do that, I reward myself: if I write 5 pages, I can play mahjong; if I write 7 pages, I can watch TV for an hour or go out for dinner. Whatever I can bribe myself with.

Oh, lord, I sound like such a child. ;-)

Jean Henry Mead said...

I have the same problem. Jackie. I sit down early in the morning at the computer, but I first check my sales, answer email and comment on blog sites before the urge to write strikes me. I nearly forgot, I have a blog post to write for tomorrow.

Jackie King said...

Marilyn, Thanks for sharing this with us. I've always considered you the perfect writer. And here you are, human like the rest of us.

I'll try the reward system and see how that works for me.

Jackie King said...

Hi Jean, I guess that different things work for different people. I try to write before I do anything else. Otherwise, I exhaust my energy before I finish with the internet.

You produce a new book very often, and I'm delighted that you have learned a method that works for you. I'm determined that I will do the same before much longer.
Hugs to you, too,