Wednesday, September 15, 2010

For Love or Money

We all know we don’t write for the money, so obviously we do it for the love of the written word. For sanity sake. To give stories a home. To give voices to characters.

Unless you’re one of the top five wage earning writers who happen to be lucky enough to do it for both:

James Patterson (who apparently writes in long hand – there’s no computer in his office.)

Stephenie Meyer (even though she didn’t release a title in 2009 - but she does have Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner playing Bella, Edward and Jacob in the movie versions.)

Stephen King (who apparently published a poem in Playboy – maybe they really do read it for the articles – as well as backlists, short stories and reviews.)

Danielle Steel (who has recently announced at 71 of her books will be available from Amazon and Sony.)

Ken Follett (who’s book Pillars of the Earth placed second to To Kill a Mockingbird in The Times poll of greatest novels of the last 60 years. One wonders if a move up the list isn’t in his future after the miniseries based on the book aired in July.)

It’s all brilliant and good to love writing when it’s going well, but what about when it’s not. I’m sure the aforementioned authors had their bad days. No doubt they’re hardworking, dedicated and talented but, come on, no gets by without a bad day...or month.

But writers write. It’s a famous quote and everything. And that’s exactly what we do. We write. Whether things are going well or not. As an unpublished author I’m working on getting a handle on this whole self-discipline thing because I need it to accomplish my writing goals. No one is pushing me but myself and that can be a challenge when trying to meet goals. In the past I have allowed deadlines to dictate necessary action but that’s not good enough anymore and not only is not good enough, it’s not going to get the job done.

What I need is self-discipline.

Self-discipline involves keeping the big picture front and center. To act instead of react. To make sacrifices in order to honour a dream. Therefore, it is self-discipline that will drive me to:

  • Work on an idea or project after the initial rush of enthusiasm has faded away. 
  • Keep my butt in the chair with hands on keyboard typing away madly instead of choosing to lie on the couch and veg in front of the TV. 
  • Wake up early to get a head start. 
  • Say “no” when tempted by instant gratification remedies which will make me forget I’m having a weak writing day. 
  • Only check various social media sites at specific times of the day.

How about you? Do you practice self-discipline? Or is it something you wish you had?


Helena said...

Oh, Karyn, it's a life-long battle. If I haven't learned something from my farm background, my Scottish heritage, my marriage to a (very) self-disciplined German, plus all the self-help stuff I've done on setting goals, licking procrastination, etc. plus just plain good sense that tells me that nothing gets done if you don't work at it .... well, then it's my own fault if I can't muster some self-discipline.

But it's HARD! Especially if my elderly mother tells me that retirement is for doing what you feel like doing!! Yeah, but Mom, I want to be doing something that I know requires effort with an E!!!

Thanks for all the excellent reminders of what we need to do and where we can go wrong in our quest to write. Not only that but to write something worthwhile. I do believe the struggle is actually part of the reward, because don't you feel good if you have put in an honest effort? Even if the output is less than you hoped, it will get better if you persist with the disciplined approach.

And don't I sound like a goody-goody? Just do as I say, not as I do!

Karyn Good said...

Hi Helena. You're doubly right, self-discipline is a life-long struggle and it's HARD. Great when things are going well but a little more challenging when things aren't coming up roses.

I agree, the euphoria of knowing you showed up and have something to show for it - priceless.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karyn,
How I would love to be in the company of the writers you have listed here, at least financially. But since my name doesn't appear on your list, I guess I'm writing for the love. Sigh.

These days some of the things that motivate me are getting edits in to my editor on time, and meeting submission deadlines. I'm really motivated by a deadline! I hate being late for anything.

But apart from that, I love writing 'The End'. I love to finish a piece, and fit all the pieces into place. I'm also motivated by trying to make my next book better than the last one.

That said, I've got at least three partially finished manuscripts lying around. They're driving me crazy but so far I haven't finished them. If I stayed away from the TV I'd probably get them done.


Karyn Good said...

Hi Jana. I'd settle for being on a list. Anywhere on a list.

I agree about typing The End. It's immensely satisfying and I hate giving up on a story idea. Half the fun is working through all the problems and making that HEA happen.

Deadlines are very useful. I love people who are dependable and never late. That is a well-developed skill and takes lots of self-discipline.

Good luck with your edits :)

Ban said...

I soooo lack discipline, and motivation, yeah ... I'm doomed. You'll never see my name on that list. Still love it though :)

Karyn Good said...

Thanks Ban. And here's to everyone finding the way that works for them!