The Disciplined Writer

I push out a lot of work each year. I tend to several blogs, plot short stories, edit full-length novels, proofread for friends, and beyond. Other writers ask me what my secret is. I pull them close, lean in, and whisper in their ear: discipline. They tear away with wide eyes at the simplicity of my answer. No, I’m not special. No, there is no magic trick to becoming a better writer. And no, there is no way around it.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can get down to business. I used to be a budding hardheaded writer. I thought I had all the answers and talent to go with it. I’d ask the same questions to seasoned authors at every Q&A session. How can I be like you? How can I be an amazing writer? They’d answer with the simplest things. Read more and write more. Everyday. Or close to it. I’d sit there scratching my head waiting for the rest of the answer. Not knowing that they’d just dropped a whole ton of knowledge on me.

Years later, I figured it out for myself. Being a better writer takes discipline. Well, Leah, I don’t have the time to write. I’ve got kids, a home to tend to, bills! I totally understand life. Trust me, I do. But on the other hand, we have time for the things we want to make time for. Right? If there is a concert we want to go to or a goal we want to accomplish, we figure out a way to do it. So what’s the difference with a craft?

No one is forcing you to do anything in life. You don’t have to be a writer or anything else if you don’t choose to. But if you do want to be something like an author, editor, and you want to be skilled at it, then you’ll need discipline. You’ll need to attempt to write and read every day. Even if it’s for half an hour. Try to make it a habit. At noon, during lunch, set a goal to jot down at least two-hundred words of a novel or a page of story ideas. After thirty days of doing this, look back at your work from when you first started and compare it to your present work. You’ll see a difference in your writing and you will have begun your journey to becoming a better, more disciplined writer.


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