As with anything in life, creating a habit and having self-discipline is important. So is true for creating your writing discipline.
Here I will recommend things that have worked for me, try them out, and use them to create your own writing discipline. In the end, the importance is to figure out and create the best ritual for YOU to write your best work.
Your Most Creative Time of Day
Let’s start creating your writing discipline by figuring out when your best time of day is to write. I recommend creating a specific time daily and establishing a routine. We are creatures of habit. If we make something routine, eventually it will become instinctual, and your mind and body will be on board with the endeavor. It takes 21 days to create a habit [form a new Neural Pathway]and 90 days to make it part of your lifestyle. (Maltz, Maxwell Psycho-Cybernetics. 1960.)
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”–Maya Angelou
Now. When are you the most creative? Experiment and figure it out. Is the early dawn, just after the sun has awoken with a steaming cup of hot coffee when you get to write and do your best work? Or after you finish dinner, clean up and get to treat yourself with winding down by letting all those creative juices flow. The keyword here is GET. By creating the mental concept that this, pursuing your passion, making your dreams happen is a treat, a bonus, something, you GET to do. A positive escape from the mundane monotony of the routine world. Training your brain to see this as a positive attribute, as delicious as a dessert or as beautiful as watching the sunrise, will make it easier to incorporate into your life.
Create Your Writing Space
Once you have established your time, determine your space. Create yourself an area that is free from distraction. Decide on your location, somewhere easy to return to daily, kitchen table, desk, sitting outside… Ideally, it would be a gorgeous writer’s cabin in a serene setting with no disruptions… Yeah, well… We live in reality… So, create the best space you can with what you’ve got and make it work. Make a list of what you need. Coffee, tea, water, food, pens, pencil, notepad, computer, tablet (charged is important). Turn your phone to airplane mode and tell those you cohabitate with not to disturb you. The goal is to create your writing discipline and not give yourself any excuses not to.
Now, establish how you are going to write. In creating your writing disciple use the materials that will enable the words to flow. Do you write on your laptop or with pen and paper? Figure out what works for you. If you really feel inspired; pick up an old-school typewriter and click-clack away.
Measuring Your Productivity
How do you want to measure your productivity? Do you want to give yourself a daily word count or set a timer? In the beginning, start small and realistic. You are creating a HABIT. If you’re overzealous, you can get easily discouraged and quit. Nobody wants that for you, so be practical. For word count, start with 250; if that’s easy, aim for 500 words. For time start with 15 minutes. If that’s easy, bump it up to 30 minutes. Again, start small and increase as you establish your groove.
When Inspiration Hits
If the timer goes off/ you reached your word count, yet inspiration has hit and the writing is flowing, run with it, baby! Purge those thoughts, keep it going and get it ALL out! Some say stop where you are. I have to disagree. Once you’re in the zone, all the good stuff comes out, don’t stifle it by forcing yourself to stop.
There will be days when nothing is flowing, and you want to throw a tantrum and want to quit… DON’T! On those uninspired days, still, keep your commitment. This will strengthen your writing discipline. Understand that this is normal and will happen numerous times. Be nice to yourself. We’re humans, not machines. Need a little motivation to work through this, then check out Marek’s article Opening creativity, part 5 – Do something now
Allow yourself to play with all of this until you figure out what works for you. Set realistic goals. Have a plan. Minimize distractions. Be patient and forgiving with yourself. Treat yourself with love and compassion. You are embarking on a new journey, and it is just the beginning. As always, have fun!