Authors & Speakers Network Blog with Larry James

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It Takes “Discipline” to Be a Writer… and More!

My writing teacher and biggest influencer in my writing career, Peggy Moss Fielding (1927-2014, Tulsa, OK), once told me, “If you can’t set aside at least one hour each day to write, you will never be a writer.”

A&S-DisciplineMy first thought was… “One hour a day?! No way! I don’t have time to do the things I need to do every day as it is. How about if I start with 15 minutes?”

“Writing is sitting down – EVERY DAY – slicing open a vein, then bleeding your Truth all over the page.” ~ Scott Ginsberg

The hardest thing for most writers to do is to write. However, once they have written something, there is a great sense of accomplishment.

Discipline often conjures up images of deprivation, seriousness, or (gasp) rules. It not only takes discipline, it takes dedication. Discipline usually means making ourselves do some duty, grit our teeth, force ourselves to do what we don’t want to do. If you want to be a writer you MUST write. When writing, discipline must be seen as a positive, never a negative.

“You settle into the discipline of writing just as you settle into your favorite chair. Discipline feels good and makes you a good writer.” ~ Harriet Hodgson

Currently I have 4 blogs (including this one – see the list at the end of this article) and I write something new on each one of them almost every day. Each blog is published on Facebook and Tweeted every 4th day. Don’t even think about starting a blog unless you can commit to writing something new at least once each week. If you don’t your blog will die on the vine. It must have interesting and fresh “content” to attract readers who will subscribe to your blog and come back to see what’s new. Be sure to add the URL to your blog on your business card, your e-mail signature and everything that leaves your office. If “you” don’t tell people about it – who will?

writedaily3Daily. You must write something everyday. Choose the time when you feel that you are the most creative and promise yourself to spend at least one hour writing. My best time is late in the evening. No phone calls. No interruptions. You need some undisturbed time for concentration. Right now it is 12:14 a.m. You may prefer to write in long or short sessions. Write a short paragraph or an entire page. What works best for you? Be sure to take occasional breaks to keep the creative juices flowing.

“Start off slow. Either begin with every other day, twice a week, whatever is not overwhelming for you. Or limit your writing to a half an hour every day or two pages or whatever’s attainable. Many people burn out before they solidify a routine.” ~ J. A. Howard

Begin my making notes about what you want to write about. Scribble. Random notes are okay. Write your notes in a computer file. Refer to them when you run out of ideas. Some of my best ideas have been in my “Future Ideas” file. Many times what I may have written months before is just what I need to complete an idea that I have had trouble finishing. Often these ideas will inspire a creative streak when it seems that I cannot type fast enough to express the thoughts that I want to write about.

Sometimes a lightning bolt of inspiration strikes. I may be driving my car to an appointment, thinking and BANG! A new idea or a twist on an old idea comes to mind. The small recorder in my dashboard comes in handy at moments like this. I have been known to awaken from a dream, get up and go to my computer to jot a few noteworthy ideas. Experience has taught me that I most likely will never remember the idea when I wake up in the morning. I also have a pen with a small light at it’s tip that can help me make notes in the dark on a notepad beside my bed.

Don’t get too wordy. Say what you need to say, let it rest, come back 24 hours later, read it again, and edit or rewrite if necessary.

Learn to Tweet. I resisted Twitter for months thinking it was for kids. People “tweet” about everything from their latest closed sale to the color of the bird on their windowsill. I could care less about reading that Sam had a ham sandwich with Sally. That has all changed. Twitter has helped me be a better writer. The common thread between these vastly different messages is their length – Twitter restricts your messages to 140 characters. I decided to write a “relationship” Tweet once each day. Sometimes I will have an idea for a Tweet but it will be too long. Restricting an entire message to just 140 characters builds discipline – you can’t ramble and repeat yourself over and over. Discipline helps me edit to 140 characters so it makes sense. I can now see that 365 Tweets could very easily become another relationship book – one relationship “Tweet” for everyday in the year – 140 characters at a time. Imagination is a wonderful thing! 😉

writedaily2Don’t worry about sentence structure, punctuation, etc., that comes later. Just write. Be spontaneous. If you want to be a good writer you will need to hire someone to proofread your writing. Spellcheck is terrific, but it doesn’t discover all the nuances that a professional will find.

The mistake that a lot of would be writers make is that they stop writing when they don’t feel inspired and wait for the passion to come back. That is a mistake. You can always write something. Even it it means beginning to write something new to get you back on track. Don’t believe in “writer’s block.” Writing is never difficult if you have something good to say. Sketch out a few new ideas and begin again. You can always write something!

My first attempt at writing my first book, took 13 1/2 months. My second book was easier and quicker and my 3 book was written in 2 1/2 months. Since then I’ve written 2 more.

“Go toward with what attracts, excites or inspires you. Ask yourself what’s worth the effort and the sacrifices that come with commitment to any big goal. Worthwhile goals demand effort, risk, and sacrifice. You have to persist through fear and doubt; you have to draw on inner resources and become more than you were before. You find out what you’re made of.” ~ Dan Millman

If your goal is to write a book, set a sub-goal to write 3 to 5 pages a day. If you are writing a 200 page book and write 3 pages a day, it will only take you about 65 to 70 days to complete it if you stay on schedule.

“The key of course to being a highly effective blogger is discipline, and discipline required structure. Structure of course leads to habit, and habit is a natural tool that can make anyone more effective if its focused in the right direction.” ~ Duncan Riley

It only takes 20 to 30 days to develop a new habit. Practice, practice, practice by writing something everyday and you will develop a new, productive habit of writing in about a month. Good writing habits are easy to make and hard to break, especially if you enjoy writing. Having been writing most of my life, but seriously since 1995, I feel compelled to write. It’s a good feeling. I have developed a passion for writing.

I cannot imagine writing a book on a legal pad. Or a typewriter. Computers have made writing easy. When I wrote “Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections,” I created 10 files in my computer, named each file and as I came up with ideas I would alternate writing between each of the ten files until I could not think of anything else to write. You don’t have to write a book from page one to the end. I write non-fiction and it’s more fun to skip around from chapter to chapter or as in my later books, from topic to topic.

For me, I usually am listening to some quiet jazz as I write. Jazz inspires me. My hero, Miles Davis once said, “”When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that makes it good or bad.” When a jazz musician plays jazz, although he may not consciously know what the next note will be, he trusts his intuition enough to fearlessly play it. It’s the same with writing. Often the next word will inspire me to go back and rewrite the entire sentence to make it better. Some soft classical music in the background may inspire you.

If you want to be a writer there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome with time. Never let anyone tell you that you cannot write. Everyone can write if they really want to. Read lots of articles about writing. Follow other writer’s blogs. Google – “Writer Blogs!”

BONUS TIP: Always click “save” after you have written something on your computer. You cannot click the save button too much. I had to rewrite the entire first chapter of my very first book all over again because I forgot to save what I had written and my computer froze. (Of course, it was better the second time around!)

Maybe you’re struggling to write because you don’t feel good enough. Take a writing course at a community college. That’s what I did and where I met my teacher, Peggy Moss Fielding. She was teaching a class at Tulsa Junior College. That class literally change the direction of my life! (Thanks, Peggy! I miss you!)

“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument while the song I came to sing remains unsung.” ~ Rabindranath Tagor

I dare you to write something everyday – without fail. – Larry James

To write a blog, article or book, you must first begin writing. Begin today!

By the way… I STILL don’t have time to write. I make time to write!

Read: “How to Write a Book, One Page at a Time” by Larry Winget and Jazz Up Your Relationship!

Note: I started writing this article at 12:14 a.m. It is now 2:45 a.m. And all is well. 😉

BONUS Article: Scribble, Scribble… Write, Write!


Authors & Speakers Network Blog

Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a professional speaker and the author of three relationship books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” His newest book is “Ten Commitments of Networking.” Larry James also offers “Author & Speaker” coaching. Contact:, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – More than 110 articles especially for Authors & Speakers at:

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