Tag Archives: writer discipline

My Husband Says I Can’t Spell Discipline or How I Have Been Failure’s Bitch

This is a running joke at our house, and the joke’s on me because I did just reference a tab along the top of my screen to check my spelling as I typed this post’s title. Every time the word discipline comes out of my mouth in his presence, he puts on his best Marine Corps voice and says, “Discipline? You can’t even spell discipline.”

Maybe the problem here is that I’ve learned to laugh at myself in this respect and it’s really not funny. Maybe it’s really fucking up my shit.

So it’s GIT Tuesday and my Goddess in Training stuff has been about changing my thoughts and creating better habits. That’s why Kristen Lamb’s post: Self-Discipline- The Key to Success really got me thinking. If you haven’t read it, you should, and if you do it now then this post will make more sense.

Kristen proves her point about self-discipline being necessary by showing us a list of highly successful authors who went to top schools, were highly successful in other fields– were in freaking Congress. Immediately I feel hopeless. Well crap. Let’s hope you can be moderately successful if you’re just moderately intelligent and far less awesome. That would be one of those thinking habits I need to work on. Kristen says,

“Successful people are willing to get up earlier, stay up later, work harder and never stop. They will outpace their competition every time. Why? Because self-discipline isn’t a once in a while thing, “Oh, I was so good today.” Self-discipline is the foundation of the successful life….not an accessory worn when we feel particularly inspired.”

Know who embodies that? Kait Nolan. And now I get why Kait and Kristen click so well together. So I read on.

The post goes on to give some do’s and don’ts for this, and they’re a lot like the weight loss stuff. Don’t jump into some crazy exercise thing and hurt yourself, start small and build. Don’t set goals that set you up for failure.

And then she talks about failure, about changing your relationship with failure. Man, I am failure’s bitch. I wrote a book last year I actually let other people read. HUGE step. You get that. I’m almost forty years old and I’m just getting to this point in my life where I’m actually finishing things. Because for most of my life I’ve been caught up in this perfectionism where I don’t finish anything. Because once something’s finished, it’s time to put it out there for other people to judge. But if you never finish anything, you never have to face having it rejected.

Tangent: Remember Pitfall for Atari 2600? With twenty minutes on the clock, you’re moving this guy across the screen, trying to pick up treasure. And when you fail to clear an obstacle, it loses you a little bit of time (and points). There were only a few different kinds of screens and obstacles that would keep repeating and every once in a while there’d be a treasure. I thought (and I’ve no idea if it’s true, probly not), that you could have a perfect game where you’d go to the right at full speed, never hit an obstacle, and eventually circle back to the start of the game–come out on the left side of the first screen.

I started playing the game to have a perfect game. And any time I hit an obstacle, I’d reset and start over. I never got very far and I don’t think I got any better at the game. And I started playing other games that way, too. Lose a man too early? Well, I’ll never make high score now. Reset.

Reset. Reset. Reset. How many unfinished games? How many unfinished stories?

Yeah, I was failure’s bitch. I’ve got a degree in Psychology, never looked at grad schools or applied for a job in that field. I’ve got a degree in Fashion Design. Completed my course work for that and went RIGHT BACK to full time at the sweat shop I’d been sewing in. But you know, I think that might be changing. The last few years I’ve forced myself into a willingness to try, to expose myself to the possibility of failure. And a lot of good things have happened.

Some of the habits that worked in conjunction with the perfectionism thing and never finishing anything are things Kristen brings up in her post under the heading: Don’t Let The Feelings Vote. I’m reading:

Guilty…

Guilty…

Guilty…

Okay, so I can see the problem. Now what? Once I started gaining weight, 20 years of resets of the next week I’m going to start this awesome diet and exercise program variety didn’t work for me. I weighed in the other day saw and have been at the same healthy weight for the last few months.

Kristen says not to wait until your feelings change to change your actions. I’m not disagreeing with her at all. I’m just looking at me and I’m thinking maybe the reason this stuff never seems to work for me is just because I need to change my thinking before I can change my actions consistently. When I changed my thoughts about a lot of the eating stuff, I started refusing some of the overeating and bad foods more consistently, and started shedding weight.

So maybe this is why that thing of just saying I’m going to write X words every day (even just 250), or sit down for X amount of time doesn’t seem to work for me. Because discipline? I no haz it.

Only I do. Yesterday I knew I was going out to dinner and I told Kait I was going to go eat a whole burger. Calorie-wise I was probably within my rights. So I went out and ordered a burger with a side of apples. Burger came and I cut it in half–a great habit which also makes it easier for my little mouth and little hands. Picked up the second half of the burger, actually said, “I’m going to eat the second half of this burger,” and then stopped. Thought, I’m not hungry right now. Why am I doing this? and asked the waiter for a box.

So I do have self-discipline, like Kristen said I do. I am capable of that. I can now do many reps of curls with 1/3lb cheeseburgers without pain. I just have to figure out what works for me for the rest of it. All this stuff that I read, all these “secrets of motivation,” it all seems to skip a step. They all say, “if you want it badly enough.” Well, I don’t know about that. I at least want to want to be better.

I can’t seem to just say to myself, “I’m going to do the dishes every day.” Because myself says, “Fuck you. I’m tired. I’m going to watch TV and see if Andrew’s on IM.” (Even though, please note, I know Andrew does his dishes because he says this on IM and yet I’m not inspired by his example.) I can’t seem to say to myself, “I’m going to work on my outline every day this week,” because myself says, “Eh, I can’t really think of anything that would be good today. I’ll make it up on a day I’m really on. I have a lot of other things I need to do anyway.” And then I’m all, “But we said were gonna–” “Um, fuck you I said not right now, okay?”

Okay, geez. Bite my head off, myself. Damn, she’s bitchy.

So anyway, this can’t be just me. Anyone else have this missing link thing going on? I’m going to cogitate on where my thought process is going wrong while I go wash some dishes.

Advertisements

25 Comments

Filed under GIT

My Intentions for 2011

Well, I stayed up until midnight last night, but was so tired I forgot to check my numbers before they went away. So now I’ll have to wait until the reports come up to see how I did in December. So I guess I’ll be putting off my look back at the year for a few days. Which is cool. This frees me up talk about what I want to do this year.

Intentions 2011

Fiction

  • Really work at least an hour each weekday (30 min. ALONE) on real work.
    Heroes 'Til Curfew Cover Art

    Cover Art by Robin Ludwig

    Not blogging, or any other kind of marketing, and calling that book work. If I don’t get work done during the day, I need to make up the time after everyone goes to bed.

  • Complete and release Heroes ‘Til Curfew, the short story about what happened when Joss got home at the end of Hush Money (needs title that’s shorter than that!), possibly another short story, and a full-length book 3 novel.
  • Do some real work on outlining the series.
  • Write at least 3 scenes per week until the draft of Heroes ‘Til Curfew is finished.
  • Complete 1 scene per weekday on the next book. Get back in the habit of sitting down and writing a complete thought.

Blogging

Heather's scrapbook cover for the blog

  • Work out a schedule to post at least three days a week.
  • Write at least one regular post a week that might interest non-writing visitors. I actually have no idea what it is to be a non-writer, or what interests non-writers. If anyone’s got topic suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

Hobbies

My current doll collections

I need to get back to having time for other things in my life.

  • I want to read more books this year.
  • I want to get back to my doll hobby. I’ve got several dolls that need their faces painted and other maintenance.

    A knitting pattern on the Sony Reader

  • I want to get back to sewing and patternmaking. I enjoy that and I want to find the time to create and publish patterns again.
  • I want to continue knitting at least once a week. Getting out with actual people is good for me and I haven’t been to knitting in over a month now. So I’d like to try to do that. Even if I miss my regular day for some reason, there’s no reason I can drop in a different day. (Why am I so rigid?)
  • Exercise. While hardly a hobby, ew, I don’t want to give it its own category. So I’ll put in here with things to make time for. I just need to make sure I get up and do some little thing every day. And we’ll see where that leads. I got an indoor bike trainer for Christmas, so maybe I’ll be able to combine exercise with reading this year.

Housekeeping

I used to be pretty into Flylady, which was a huge help to me. I’ve really slacked off on that since my daughter started school and I’ve turned my attentions toward creative pursuits.

What lunch used to look like before Hush Money.

  • Restart the baby steps and re-establish routines
  • Get back to regular menu planning because getting the cooking/shopping stuff under control always makes things run more smoothly. I’ve got some great recipe management software now, so I should be able to make this not so much of a chore.
  • Make this the year I get rid of all the excess crap. I’ve still got most of my daughter’s baby clothes and toys. I’ve got tons of fabric and yarn I’ll never use. I’ve got mountains of paper books that will never be read again (and as most of them are too old for the used bookstore, I’ve no idea what to do with them).

Christmas 2011

It’s pretty safe to say I mostly failed at Christmas this year. I don’t ever do a

Even the little dollies got presents in 2009.

fabulous Christmas, but I usually do a lot better than this. I usually put away a little cash out of my grocery money every week all through the year and then have most of my gifts purchased by November. I usually give lots of gifts of homemade cookies. None of that happened this year. Nor did I send any cards.

In previous years I’d done the Holiday Grand Plan, and I’d even run the LJ community for it for the last few years. Since it starts at the end of August, right when I was into marketing Hush Money, learning a ton of new stuff, trying to get the print version out, etc, I turned the running of the group over to someone else and didn’t participate. And when Christmas came around I could really feel the difference. So this year I need to get back on that wagon and make this Christmas better and less stressful at the same time.

***

If you’ve read this far, you’re pretty awesome (and possibly really bored). Thanks for hanging out with me while I think through my life. This probably looks like a lot, but I don’t think there’s anything new here, or anything that’s not what I already feel I need to be doing. It’s just working out how to be more consistent with all of it that’s a problem for me.

Organization. Maybe my real intention is to stop being my own worst enemy. Help me help you, Susan.

18 Comments

Filed under goals

My Goals for A Round of Words in 80 Days

ROW80: the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

Kait Nolan, author of Forsaken by Shadow and the newly released Devil’s Eye, who also happens to be my CP and BFF, wanted something like NaNoWriMo that could give that sense of community and we’re all in this together, without the constraints on time and project specificity that can make NaNo unattainable and crazy-making for some. Something like 70 Days of Sweat which we so enjoyed when we were much newer CPs. (But actually, I kind of think the whole thing is partly Kait’s way of trying to get more discipline in my life.)

So the deal is: set your own, measurable goal(s) and work for it 80 days, 1/3-3/24. It doesn’t have to be a new project. It doesn’t have to be a novel. You can work on editing, multiple projects, a short story anthology…

So what am I going to do. Word count goals are popular and encouraged, but they don’t really work for me. When I’m in the right frame of mind, I can scrawl a few thousand words easily and they’re good. And when I’m not, I can usually force out words, but that becomes stuff that isn’t right for the story and puts me further off track. What I think I need to work on is spending time in my world, every day, without the distraction of…the real world. During the week, whether I write on the manuscript or not, I need to spend at least 30 minutes, alone and internet-free, working in the world of the Talent Chronicles. And I need to spend a total of an hour a day on the writing stuff. ETA: (editing goals already?) I’d like to get back to writing at least one scene per day, but I think that in order to avoid setting myself up for fail, I should go for 3 scenes a week and maybe save the 1-2 scenes a day goal for the next round. Because I think an actual output goal is important so I wind up with some manuscript progress and not just noteful blathering, but word count has never been a sensible measure for me to go by.

The doesn’t seem like much, and likely I’ll spend more time most days, but I think the fact that I skip days when the work gets to hard or when real life gets in the way hasn’t been doing me any favors as far as keeping my head in the place it needs to be to write.

So that’s my measurable goal for the challenge. My other goals are to finish Heroes ‘Til Curfew and release it, to write and release the short story about what happened when Joss got home at the end of Hush Money, and to write the outline for book 3, all of which I should be able to do within 80 days. I’m looking forward to really getting my head on straight and getting back to my Talent kids this year with the focus they deserve.

14 Comments

Filed under goals, writing