Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club – Lesson #13

Welcome to the Dojo Wisdom for Writers Book Club! Every Wednesday, we meet to discuss one of the lessons in Dojo Wisdom for Writers. We’ll go in order, so it’s easy enough to follow along. Read the lesson, then read the blog post, then comment in the comments! Do feel free to comment on each other’s comments. I’ll answer questions as quickly as I can.

Lesson #13. Discipline leads to strength

People often equate discipline with punishment, so it’s gotten a bad rap, but discipline—particularly self-discipline, which is what I’m talking about in this lesson—is crucial to success. Discipline is simply the ability to do things even if you don’t particularly feel like doing them.

This can sometimes be a problem for writers because we sometimes believe that we need to be inspired to do our work, or to wait for the muse to strike, or to be in flow. If we don’t feel the urge to write, it’s easy to find something else to do, and then the writing doesn’t get done.

If writing is a hobby for you then of course it’s fine to do it only when the mood strikes. But if you’re hoping to share your work with others, or to build a career as a writer, then relying on inspiration is a sure path to disaster. What you need is discipline, and for a writer, what that means in butt-in-chair time.

For me, the most important element of discipline is making it nonnegotiable. I know that waiting for inspiration is for amateurs, and I’m not an amateur. So, discipline is a must. It’s not something I have to decide each morning. It’s a given. I’m going to write every day, period. So each day I have my writing goals clearly lined out, with time for exploration as well as execution. Some people count words, some people count time; the important thing is to do the writing every day.

I also work hard to remove obstacles that get in the way of discipline. It’s easier for me to be disciplined in the morning than at night, so I do the important work in the morning. It’s easier to do the work if I have plenty of my favorite pens and notebooks and a good laptop. I invest in those tools. I like to work at a coffee shop, so I make sure my budget includes money for mochas.

What are some things you do that help you stay disciplined?


Dojo Wisdom for Writers, second edition, now available!
Catch a Falling Star (by Jessica Starre) and The Matchmaker Meets Her Match (by Jenny Jacobs), two of my favorite novels.

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