“If you have a book inside you, write it and be published in 30 days!” The same advertisement promises you a fortune in sales if you follow their plan.
I suppose there are authors who can write a book from start to finish in 30 days and get rich from it. I’m not one of them.
Good writing is hard work. It takes time and effort to learn the craft and to produce the finished manuscript. Even if you love words and have a natural talent for putting them together in a meaningful way, it takes discipline to sit down and write when there’s so much else to do, and time and effort to do your best.
According to my dictionary, discipline is “training that develops self-control, character, or orderliness and efficiency.”* The apostle Paul refers to the discipline of a soldier as he prepares for battle or an athlete training for a race, and he compares them to the spiritual discipline of a follower of Christ. A writer, who usually works alone, must learn self-discipline, to set aside distractions and say no to unimportant details, in order to achieve a goal—the completed, publishing-ready manuscript.
A writing schedule will help. How many days a week will you write? What time of day do you write best? How many words or pages a day do you hope to complete? Just the act of writing regularly takes discipline. I know how easy it is to be distracted by family, home duties, someone’s call to fulfill a need, your favorite TV program, or a good Hallmark movie.
Having a space set aside, an office or a corner of a room, where you go to write is very helpful.
Life itself is not simple and orderly. In times of death, illness, or other emergencies, we may have to rearrange or reschedule our goals. If you have children, they need your care. Include big events, like a family wedding or a vacation, in your schedule and place them on your calendar. Planning ahead is important and can prevent a missed deadline.
I feel as though I’m writing “to the choir” here. Many of you are already disciplined writers and have trained yourself so that you work efficiently. I have recently joined some webinars and bought some books that are helping me understand how I can become a more productive writer, and perhaps a few of you will find these suggestions helpful. I’m grateful to the members of the writing community who share their knowledge and give encouragement.
*New World Dictionary of American English, Third College Edition, Simon and Schuster, 1988.