Training and control of oneself and one's conduct, usually for personal improvement.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2011
So, you want to be a writer? Consider yourself one of millions. Everyone and his/her cousin seems to think they’ve got a bestselling novel inside them somewhere and all they need to do is “write it down.” Then they actually do sit down and start putting words on paper or computer. That’s when reality hits and why writing sites are always flooded with threads from “nooriterguy” and “hemingwaydeux” and “gunnabefamus” like:
“How do you guys find time to write?”
“Why can’t I stop overwriting everything?”
“Need tips on how to finish a story!”
“What’s the best way to avoid using clichés?”
and so on.
Which makes more seasoned writers on the site have to keep repeating themselves over and over and over again, handing out the same answers/advice in thread after thread, since the newbies don’t bother to do a site search and find the scores of clone threads others of their ilk have already put up on the topics, before starting yet another new one.
I dare say it’s too much to hope this article might at least slow down the procession of repeats, but I’ll put it out here for the one or two of you it could enlighten. Here’s the thing...
The one “must-have” (besides a modicum of talent and good writing skills) that no would-be writer can possibly succeed without is that thing defined at the top of this article. How do “serious” writers find time to write? They make themselves find time. That’s how. Why can’t the pleaders for a magic cure stop over-writing everything? Because they don’t make themselves stop doing it. That’s why. What can starters of scores of stories and books do, to actually finish one? They can force themselves to keep writing one until they finish it, not let themselves start anything new till they’ve finished something old. That’s what. How can you avoid using clichés? Make yourself stop! That’s how.
All it takes is self-discipline, a trait that so few who want to be writers bother using if they have it, or acquiring, if they don’t. Why? What’s so hard about making a decision to do or not do something that won’t hurt and can do you good? I fear it may be connected to the fact that so many people underestimate the difficulty of creative work.
Whatever the cause, I’m here to tell you all that if you want to succeed as a writer or anything, you’ll have to pound a good portion of self-discipline into it. Or wake it up, if it’s been there all along and you ignored it.
PS: Offering tips for how to go about acquiring and keeping self-discipline operational is beyond me, since I was blessedly cursed with it from birth, apparently. So, if anyone has any, please leave them in the comments!
maïa (no capital ‘m’ & no last name) is a writer, mentor, writing services provider and practicing philosopher who has lived in and visited too many parts of the world to count, over the past four decades. She now lives in Oregon, makes her writings available to all free of charge, on her site and as e-books, while helping writers on writing websites and privately, by email.
E-mail is welcome: email@example.com
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