Any form of writing requires discipline. It requires devoting yourself to the task, setting aside a time and place to do it, and making a commitment to work diligently at developing your individual voice.
Even when you feel as lousy as I do right now.
Yes, I have a raging sinus infection. I saw the doctor yesterday and got the antibiotic, but it has not yet kicked in. So I have a very stuffy head, extremely sore throat, and the entire left side of my face feels like it is squished into a pressure cooker. In short, I’m pretty miserable and really just want to go crawl into my bed and forget about the world.
However . . . guess what? I have a deadline. I am a writer, I have committed to providing you with an article each Sunday — and not just any old article, but the best I am capable of writing — and so here I am with my Kleenex and Hall’s Mentholyptus, determined to live up to my promise.
And as I was sitting here wracking my congested brain for an idea, it occurred to me that I should simply write about what’s happening with me right now: I don’t feel like writing anything, I don’t much want to write anything, and I don’t feel particularly brilliant, inspired or motivated to write anything. . . and from those realities came my motivation.
We all have days like this whether because of physical illness, preoccupation with problems in our personal or professional lives, other commitments to which we must attend, the dreaded writer’s block that I have written about on several previous occasions or . . . myriad other reasons.
Determination and perseverance are what, in my opinion, transform an average or mediocre writer into a great one.
Listen to really successful writers talk about their personal habits and routines. You will hear them say over and over again that they set aside a specific time and place to write, and are very disciplined in their approach. They adhere to their commitment to write no matter what, slogging away when they don’t feel well, are distracted by other matters or events, and don’t feel creative or even competent at that particular point in time. They don’t allow anything to interfere during that designated time period and keep plugging away no matter how discouraged they get. Truly great writers will tell you that their best ideas frequently emerge during such times.
It’s about personal accountability and self-respect, too. Had I asked Karen to write something for me and gone to bed, I know myself well enough to realize that I would not have been able to relax. I would be lying there thinking about the fact that I should be writing my weekly column, wondering what she wrote for me, and probably write an article in my dreams all night long. If you are, like me, a “Type A” personality, you are nodding your head right now, empathizing. The rest of you have words like “obsessed” popping into your head and you are absolutely right. Being “Type A” is all about obsession and compulsion.
So there you have it! Write whether you feel like it or not, whether you are inspired or not, whether you feel motivated or not. Employ a highly disciplined approach, living out your commitment to your writing and monitor your results. I’m betting they will be spectacular.
And now I am taking my leave with my Kleenex and Hall’s Mentholyptus, bidding you a wonderful rest of the long weekend!