The Writing Life: It’s Not for Wimps!
by Sue Raatjes
Discipline can seem like a dirty word. We often cringe when we read it, especially when self- precedes it. Virtually every writer struggles to maintain the self-discipline required to perfect his/her craft.
I’d like to put a positive spin on this dreaded term by focusing on the root: disciple. A disciple is a follower of someone or Someone or something. A loyal follower. Apply that to your role as writer and think of yourself as a follower of a dream to influence readers. You are pursuing an end product – a piece of writing that gives you pride and joy.
Toss out that dreaded term discipline and replace it with motivation, structure, or perseverance. I like the term doggedness because it conjures up images of growling strength.
If you are holding down a job, managing a home, caring for others, and you’re developing a writing career, you probably have this discipline thing all worked out. You sacrifice sleep, streamline your life, eat more takeout, or neglect relationships in order to fit writing into your busy schedule.
For those with more time to write (and while away), it helps to adopt a professional attitude. I tell myself I’m off to work when I sit down at the computer. I take coffee breaks and lunch breaks, but that’s about it. No goofing off at work. I’ve considered hanging an old-fashioned time clock on my office wall so I can punch in and punch out.
Rewards and Inspiration
Being a writer is challenging. The rewards are slow to come, if they show up at all. It helps to be self-driven, goal oriented, or just plain stubborn. Find out what inspires and motivates you, and shower that on yourself generously.
- Gourmet coffee and/or expensive chocolate
- An encouraging friend who thinks everything you write is wonderful (Thanks, Mom!)
- An inspirational quote hanging on your wall
Here are three items that keep me plugging when my gas tank is nearing empty:
- “Write. Finish what you start. Make it great. Then do it all again.” (a quote from Chuck Wendig, Writer’s Digest, February 2014) The “finish” part is for me.
- An article from the newspaper titled, “Author publishes 1st novel at age 85.”
- The poem “On Being Happy,” from a greeting card I received 30 years ago that talks about singing a song, painting a picture, or writing a poem that no one hears or sees or reads. It ends with:
Congratulations for choosing to write. Most people don’t have the skill, inspiration, or perseverance to do what you are doing. Be proud of yourself. You are a disciple following the dream of changing lives through your words. Your brain connects with other brains, and that is a formidable task. Wimps need not apply.
Sue Faris Raatjes authored the novel, Route to Survival. Sue is a former high school English teacher, freelance writer, and Bible study leader. She has four children, 10 grandchildren, and lives in Phoenix with her husband, Bob. Read more of Sue’s writing on her blog, Grow With God, and visit her website, SueRaatjes.weebly.com.