As a writer, there’s nothing more important for your success than self-discipline. So in this article I want to first talk about why self-discipline is necessary and outline ten ways that can help you do so.
Why Self-Discipline is Necessary
Without being disciplined, success will most likely stay a dream. It’s not only true in writing, but with any other activity. It doesn’t matter if you’re an artist, an athlete or an entrepreneur, big changes always require discipline.
Without it you won’t last through the month, or maybe even the first week. You’ll most likely start making excuses, postpone your activities, and soon you will give up.
Giving Up – The Biggest Hurdle
Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamed big. I had grand goals and imagined myself at the top. What I was always missing though was the discipline to achieve any of it. It was especially the case in writing.
I would get my writing done for a couple of days before I’d waver. I’d still do my work, but I’d start pushing it off to later during the day and finally the late evening. In the second week I’d already stop writing, telling myself I’d start again fresh in a week’s time. Most times I’d not write a single thing for a few weeks or even a month. Once I’d start writing again, it was with the same grand goals on my mind only to go through the same process again.
A Word on Self-Discipline
The biggest problem in today’s world is that there’s no actual need for people to build up discipline anymore. You can get through life pretty comfortably without it. I’m sure some of you want to point out having a job and getting up in the morning requires a sufficient amount of self-discipline. Now think about it, is the chief factor really discipline or is it the consequences you’d suffer? If you don’t go to work you don’t get paid, so you get up and go to work, even if you hate your job.
It’s a fact that many things necessary in past centuries aren’t anymore. We don’t have to live by a strict daily regime; we don’t have to work hard for most of the day to get a minimal reward back and we rarely have to keep ourselves fit and healthy. Today’s world allows us to grow lax and lazy. The need for survival and the tough self-discipline that our ancestors were used to is gone, at least here in the Western World.
As a writer you need this tough self-discipline. You must develop and work on your writing skills, you need to do it daily and you must work hard on it. Without discipline, you’ll end up doing the same I outlined above. You’ll give up repeatedly without moving forward. There’s no way you’ll improve as a writer or will write a novel without a sufficient amount of self-discipline
Ten Ways of Building Up Self-Discipline
Building up a sufficient amount of self-discipline is not an easy feat and it will take time. That’s something I had to learn the hard way. It’s a long and hard process, but well worth the rewards. Here are ten helpful ways I discovered that can make things much easier for you:
1. Start Now
Many people wait for the perfect time to start. Next week, next month, or even next year. In reality, there’s no better time than right now. It takes long enough, so stop wasting time.
2. Create a Routine
The best way to build up self-discipline and to make habits stick is to create a routine. There’s no way around it. If you don’t have a fixed time every day at which you’ll write, you won’t do it. Telling yourself that you’ll write in the evening is often not enough. You’ll most likely end up pushing it off till it’s too late.
3. Prioritize Your Writing
If you want to build up the necessary self-discipline, you need to give your writing priority over other activities. If you tell yourself, you’ll do it late in the evening, chances are, you won’t do it. Instead, put it at the top of your daily to-do-list. The best thing is to do it first thing in the morning or as soon as you get home from work.
4. Stop Making Excuses
When we do things that are hard and take effort, we will make excuses. We’ll look for an easy way out. Read this post when you have trouble with this, and often end up making excuses.
5. Remove Any and All Distractions
If you plan on building up the necessary self-discipline to write every day, you need to remove all sorts of distractions from your writing area. Turn off the TV, disconnect your computer from the internet and put your phone off, or at least on mute. You should also tell friends and family to stay away during this time.
This one goes hand in hand with self-discipline. Whenever you’re writing force yourself to stay focused. Being disciplined means nothing more than to stay focused. Whenever you find your mind wandering or you think of other things, make it an effort to refocus on your writing and the task at hand.
7. Start Small
You won’t be able to build up self-discipline if you tire yourself out within the first days. Building up the discipline to write every day is along process, and it takes hard work. Start small and once you’re getting used to it, you can set a higher standard and challenge yourself.
8. Accept and Embrace Failure
Failure isn’t the end of the world. It happens. If you end up not writing one day, accept that you failed, but don’t linger on it. Tell yourself you’ll try again tomorrow and keep working on yourself. Giving up because you failed once or twice is taking the easy way out.
9. Enough Sleep and a Healthy Diet
This should be a simple decision. Building up self-discipline takes a lot of energy. That’s why you need to get enough sleep and eat healthy. I won’t get deeper into this topic right here because there’s enough advice on the internet out there already. It’s a good start to cut substances such as alcohol or tobacco from your diet and limit your caffeine intake.
10. Reward Yourself
Whenever you put in the effort to do your daily writing, reward yourself and be proud of yourself. After your first continuous week of writing, you could treat yourself to an enjoyable meal, re-watch your favorite movie or simply have fun.
Building up self-discipline won’t be easy for most of us. For me it was a lengthy process of trial and error. Following up the points outlined above helped me a lot to build up the self-discipline I needed to write every day.