Making the time

Sometimes when people learn that I write fiction full time, they say, “Wow, that takes discipline,” or, “I admire your discipline.” But really, in showing up at my desk every day, I’m no more disciplined than the person who reports to any standard job. I choose to be present to my work. Otherwise, I wouldn’t eat.

I didn’t always have that attitude. When fiction writing was a hobby, it took a great deal of discipline for me to partake in it. I found it very difficult to come home from my day job and concentrate on my fiction. I had Writer Who Doesn’t Write Syndrome, which I blogged about earlier (click here for that post).

Something in me shifted when a full-time fiction writer told me, “Look, you never hear Olympic athletes say, ‘I wish I could practice more, but I just don’t have the time.’ They make the time, no matter what.”

For me, conquering Writer Who Doesn’t Write syndrome required discipline. It required making the time.

Nowadays, I’m very disciplined when it comes to the more mental/emotional aspects of writing, and I’m like many creative people who commit to a separate activity — a meditation practice, a regular kickboxing class, or what have you — which keeps them in healthy touch with their feelings, and thus makes them more available to their art. For me, that one super-beneficial routine requiring my disciplined commitment is exercise. There’s just something about feeling good and strong physically that seems to connect me to my words.

What requires you to be disciplined? What keeps you feeling mentally well?

~Alicia Bessette

9 Replies to “Making the time”

  1. Oh I wish I could write full time. I still have that writing is a hobby job with the pay the bill job during the day. I do write everyday! I make sure of it b/c I don’t want to loose sight of my dream.
    Congrats on conquering your syndrome – LOL!!

  2. I try to write every day. The journey is the reward for me.

    I surf most every day. It involves stretching and deep breathing before I paddle out. It keeps me grounded because there are great white sharks and other toothy creatures that remind me of my place on the planet.

    Surfing is a dance this 50 year old dude still digs.

    Looking forward to your book, A.

    I’m sending Q, mine today and I’m digging Silver Linings.

  3. Terrific blog post! I especially love the quote about Olympic athletes.

    I held down a full-time day job for my entire adult life, including the years I was a fledgling author trying to get a book deal. In an interesting twist of fate, I was laid off at the end of December, and within two months, ended up with a three-book deal for my romantic comedies. Though I may eventually have to go back to holding down a day job of sorts, at least I wasn’t faced with that age-old writer conundrum of deciding when to quit the day job 🙂

    Thanks for this enlightening post!


  4. So true, regarding how people think about writing. My grandfather says, “People do what they want to do.” And I think that is largely true. People talk about all sorts of things, but…

    Running keeps me sane. I write until I feel too stressed to continue and then I run until I am no longer stressed. This is my routine and it helps a lot! Alicia and I also take long walks, which also help.

    I’ll be checking the mail, Greg! So glad you are enjoying TSLP!

  5. Great post again, Alicia. I’m still struggling in the, “I Can’t Find the Time” phase. It’s always helpful to be reminded that others have been there too, and they’ve found a way out.

    Like Q, running is what keeps me sane. Even if my run doesn’t go so well, I always feel 200% better after a run than I do before. I also find that I’m much easier on myself after I take the time to clear my head and appreciate what my body is able to do. I think this is why I do my best writing AFTER runs. I find it much easier to sit still and focus once my body is happy to be at rest.

  6. Discipline. The gym is a discipline. Three times minimum. Five times maximum. My body and my mind tell me when I don’t adhere to my discipline. I ache more . . . in both places.

    My writing discipline has slipped. I do write; but, only in snatches of time. I suppose I’m disciplined in my thinking about writing. By that, I mean, I don’t just think about writing. I think about my writings.

    It’s difficult when life intrudes on discipline. I guess that’s when you truly find the meaning of the word discipline.

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