There are two things I believe you must have if you want to be a writer. They’re not complicated, in and of themselves, but they are difficult to achieve. The first one is routine and the second one is discipline, not necessarily in that order.
Routine is a necessity because you need to establish patterns and give your writing structure if you’re going to be able to produce a substantial work of fiction. Saying, “Oh, I’ll get to that later,” isn’t the attitude that gets you very far.
Try to establish a routine that puts you in the writing chair everyday.
It doesn’t necessarily matter if you’re writing at the same time everyday, but if you are struggling to establish a routine, then select a time at which you write and do so consistently. Make sacrifices to keep that time. After four to six weeks, you’ll have a routine if not a habit.
Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s only easy if have discipline. In order to make your writing time everyday, you’re going to need to prioritize. When you have something else tempting you away from your writing, you’re going to have to be disciplined enough to overcome that temptation.
How do I develop discipline?
Let’s face it, people continue doing things they love. If you love writing, then discipline shouldn’t really be an issue. If you just want to be a famous author, then you’re crazy. You should want to be a famous actor. I’m kidding, but it’s true. Being famous for writing is most likely overrated. Either way, if you just want fame, your work ethic will be pretty weak.
Maybe you really do want to write, but you’re lacking discipline for another reason. For example, you feel like you’re not good enough. The truth is you might not be. Not yet, anyway. Watch the video I’ve embedded. It’s from Ira Glass and it speaks to feeling like you’re not creating art that’s up to your standards.
In order to get good at writing, or anything else, you have to practice. Published authors are making it look easy, but it’s not easy at all. You have to go after it and learn to establish a routine, form some good habits, and hone your craft.
Routine and discipline are two of the most important skills I’ve developed as a writer. I’m not published yet, but because of my writing habit I’ve watched my own work become something I can be proud of. You can accomplish the very same goal.
Which is harder for you: routine or discipline?
P.S. There’s a picture of a karate kick at sunrise on this post because I feel like the martial arts requires a great deal of discipline. Maybe you picked up on that.