Self-discipline: a necessary evil–and possibly the key to my happiness

So… I’ve been thinking again. We all know I favor thinking over action as often as I can. ;)

I was writing my word count post yesterday when I realized that I really have become the kind of writer I don’t want to be: unreliable, undisciplined, and full of excuses for why my books are languishing unwritten.

Even knowing how badly I needed to produce words yesterday, I put it off and ended up wanting to pull my hair out over my own resistance to doing something I like to do (write). I ended up here, writing that post.

What I realized is that I’m going to have to change, whether I want to or not. I’m not going to be that kind of writer. Or person. Or whatever. :)

I have the ability to self-discipline. I just really don’t like doing it and I talk myself into the mindset that life shouldn’t be about schedules and discipline, especially if I’m doing something I like. But that’s just not true. Maybe it should be about discipline and schedules because it’s something I like.

Anyway, I’m here only to say that I’ve made a new schedule. It’s one I’m going to start following today, and it’s not a guideline this time, it’s a rule.

I’m going to adjust it as needed to make sure I meet my writing goals. What set this off yesterday wasn’t actually me realizing I was putting off what needed done, again, but a conversation I had with my sister about needing to lose more weight and what I was going to do about it. I told her I was going to go back to counting calories in a spreadsheet I have, because that’s what really works for me because I’m very numbers oriented.

That made me realize that for my writing, this probably explains why my spreadsheet is so motivating to me, and also made me realize I need to utilize that more. I had at one time included deadlines on the spreadsheet but decided they sucked the fun out of writing. But I’m not so sure about that. There’s definitely fun to be had figuring out how many words I need to write to meet that deadline.

I think the problem was thinking of those deadlines as set in stone while I kept underestimating the word counts for book length on most of my books. As long as I keep in mind that adjustments are perfectly okay and not a flaw in the system, I can see this working for me.

On the other hand, I really only want to do that for the books I’m behind on, so I can get them out ASAP, and then settle into my goal for more 2000+ word days. :)

This is not an experiment so much as it’s a challenge. I’ve told myself I can’t drop this plan or decide I don’t need to follow a schedule after all because it’s too restrictive—what silly nonsense. I made the schedule based on my own needs. No one is telling me what to do here; I’ve just figured out that these are the best times for me to do what I already want to do, for the benefit of both my future and current self. Being schedule-less just isn’t working out well for me and my sinking numbers for this year are yelling at me to make changes or risk losing the future I most want (continuing to write fiction for a living).

I’m going to do my best to follow the schedule. Some days, like today, I’ll have to make adjustments right off, but it’s a plan and I plan to keep on it.

7 to 12: writing, 3 sessions of 15 minutes, with a goal of 250 words per session (on publishing days I won’t be writing)
1 to 4: currently needed to catch up to where I need to be on several projects, writing some days, same as above, more likely doing publishing stuff, such as proofing chapters of whatever I’m working on

Because this is a 7 day a week schedule, the 1 to 4 won’t continue indefinitely. That’s 56 hours a week, and I don’t want to work that many hours every week unless a story is driving me to it. It’s just that right now I’m really behind on some stuff, so I need to work until 4 if I want to get this stuff done. By the middle of October, if I can stick to this, I’ll be in a much better place and will be able to adjust my schedule accordingly, for shorter hours. 5 hours x 7 days a week is a much more comfortable 35 hours a week, doing something I really like doing. And if I show that I can meet my goals and work fewer hours, I’ll take advantage of that.

However things end up, the plan is to have regular hours for my writing and publishing, so I can settle into a strong routine and actually start being productive in one way or another most days. I’m done ending every day feeling like I haven’t accomplished anything worthwhile.

Now, I’m late starting my work today, because of writing this post, so I’m going to call this post done.