Sunday, February 10, 2013

Discipline


Never one for football or basketball in high school, I did go out for one year of track as a freshman. I usually came in last, so I didn't bother the next year. Years later, I took advantage of two weeks' free class at the local taekwondo club. After the two weeks, I stayed with it and have enjoyed the sport for over twenty years. I've achieved many goals in those years but one goal I really wanted, was to be physically fit.

My stature was small in school and I filled out after college. I've tried several times to get into shape. A New Year's resolution many years ago had me running in the middle of winter and exhausted after only two hundred yards. Since, I've gone many rounds of this and that routine. Last April, I asked my taekwondo instructor what exercise program he thought best. I had seen those Insanity info-mericals on television and though the program looked a little extreme, I really wanted to get serious about reestablishing a workout routine to stay healthy.

He suggested a free program developed by one of my organization's high ranks and can be found at warriorxfit.com. Based on the belt colors, you spend only twenty minutes on six exercises. You log the results and progress up in 'rank'. The only equipment needed is a resistance tube. I've found it enjoyable and although I may not be the next Mr. Universe, I've lost weight and built muscle and stamina.

I've achieved this success through discipline. I think if you are going to have any kind of success, you need discipline. My problem has always been that I don't have somebody looking over my shoulder urging me to work out. I have to be strong-willed enough to go up to the club by myself and complete either complete my warrorxfit exercises for the day or to improve my martial arts skills.

Writing demands the same discipline. Laziness won't complete a novel. Writing is tough. It really is. I've seen too many people give up because they have no discipline. Writers may write, but they also have to achieve. Sure, I've heard the excuses: “Life gets in the way.” “I have commitments.” “I have obligations.”

I understand these statements and I've made them myself from time to time. However...

You know what the 'however' is. I didn't stick with my early attempts at exercising because I didn't have the motivation. I really didn't want to stay committed. People who begin a book, but never get past the first or second chapter, or keep restarting or get too deep into the minutiae of writing aspects (outlines, character profiles, etc.) and never finish a first draft, really don't want to write. The excuses become hollow because there's no discipline.

Do you have to write every day? Do you have to write 5000 words each time? No. You find what works for you. You want your goal to be reasonable yet challenging. My last goal was to complete the first draft of my next Mallory Petersen mystery by the end of 2012. I achieved that goal with a few days to spare. How? Discipline. I pushed myself to write. I conducted research on days away from work. In the rain. When I was tired. When I had other commitments I couldn't neglect. I made time to write.

Warriorxfit is exhausting and my muscles get sore. I'm tired and sweaty when I'm finished. But I love the results. Writing is exhausting and my brain aches. I'm tired and drained when I'm finished. But, again, I love the results.

So get out there and crack the whip at yourself. You'll have support from fellow writers, but it comes down to YOU.

5 comments:

Julie Luek said...

I've read a couple posts lately about the writing habit. Must be on a lot of minds as we start the new year. Fortunately, I'm rather disciplined by nature so it isn't like paddling upstream, but I know different personalities have to work that out in a way that is good for them. Good post.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Sometimes making myself go to my work in progress isn't all that easy. Good post Stephen!

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Once you get used to the discipline, it is much easier to commit and to accomplish. I know when I take a few days away from either the exercise regimen or the writing, I have to push a little bit harder to get back in the game. Thanks for reading and commenting.

WS Gager said...

Great post Stephen. I liked how you did both writing and exercising as a discipline. I struggle with both and will work harder on each!
Wendy
W.S. Gager on Writing

Beryl Reichenberg said...

Although I may have trouble exercising, I find I have no problem writing and creating. In fact, I wish I had more time for creating which is pure joy for me. If I block on one project, I turn to another. I usually am working on a couple projects at a time. Writing stories for young children may be different than writing a novel; I haven't tried the latter. But creating a children's story involves not only writing but illustrating. Having a visual component propels the story forward and makes the process more exciting for me. Now if I could only find the time and inclination to exercise. Beryl