Writing

5 Ways to Develop Discipline in Writing

The abuse of power and authority in so many settings has often been cloaked as discipline. Thus, over the years the word discipline has taken on a highly negative connotation. Yes, discipline is about establishing rules and expectations. Yes, there are consequences, positive and negative that follow the choices of obedience or disobedience. However, as a writer, it takes discipline to produce desired results. Here are some recommendations for establishing discipline as a writer:

1.       Assess Risks – You’re probably wondering what risks have to do with writing. The answer? Everything. Take inventory of the things that you will lose, how you (and others) will be impacted if you don’t write something. Ask yourself, “what is not being a disciplined writer costing me right now?” Your answers may range from peace of mind to missed deadlines to loss of income opportunities.

2.       Identify Rewards – Like assessing risks, it is important that you identify the rewards of being disciplined in your writing. Maybe it’s being a day closer to finishing a writing project. Perhaps writing brings a healing to a previously unattended area in your life. It is even possible that your writing is the only uninterrupted alone time that you can get. Spend some time identifying all of the rewards that you experience as a result of being disciplined to write.

3.       Remove Distractions – As you are developing your discipline to write, distractions will seem all the more appealing. The distractions could be cell phones, ancillary websites, people and environments., just to name a few. Eliminate the distractions. This may require you to put your phone on Do Not Disturb or in a different room out of reach altogether. Disciplining yourself to write may also require you changing your writing environment and turning off the internet.

4.       Set a Timer – Set a timer to designate the start and finish of your writing time. This may be a few minutes or last a few hours. During the time that you have set aside, focus solely on writing.

5.       Write Daily – Even if you feel like you have nothing specific to write, make it a practice to write something every single day. Though it might not be your best writing, you are remaining in the process to produce something. In fact, you may be led to new ideas or fresh perspectives on an old challenge.

 

Discipline requires you to do the things we should do, even when you don’t feel like it. As a writer, it is imperative that you are disciplined in your writing in order to produce your best work repeatedly. Learning discipline can be as simple as setting a timer and removing distractions. It can also be a more intrinsic  process requiring you to look within for risks and rewards that will propel you forward.

I’d love to hear about ways that you discipline yourself to write. Comment Below.

Finding Inspiration to Write

I like to believe that inspiration can be both the protagonist and antagonist in our writing stories. There are days when inspiration flows freely, and it’s difficult to cork the pour. Other times, inspiration seems to taunt us from the shores of a distant island while we rummage for things to assemble into a mangled version of a boat to get there. I have found that even on my hardest days, there are a few places that I can immediately turn to in an effort to get the thoughts flowing:

1.       Nature – It can be as simple as opening the window and admiring the trees outside, or as complicated as observing a habitat from a hidden perch. Nature provides a backdrop and soundtrack on even the most uninspired days.

2.       Family – Family offers inspiration from numerous perspectives. From parenting to jilted interactions at holiday gatherings, there is enough subject matter to write something different daily.

3.       Photographs – They say that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Take a look at a photograph and draw inspiration from the details you notice and stories it tells.

4.       Personal Stories – You have a story to tell. When seeking inspiration, sometimes the inspiration is within. Take time to share your journey, even if it is just to the grocery store.

As a writer, it is easy to get blocked. Opening yourself to inspiration from various sources, even the seemingly mundane, offers a way to keep your channels open. I believe that writing every day makes it easier to write on demand because you’re always in the flow.

Developing the Habit of Writing

Writing regularly can be hard, especially with other life responsibilities. I’m a wife, mom and active member of my community among other roles, like I am sure you are many things as well. So, I don’t have to tell you that finding time to write is difficult but necessary. Instead, I’d like to share a little more about making writing a habit. Like brushing our teeth, we do it daily and many times feel incomplete when we’ve skipped that step for the day. Likewise, as writers, we should feel a bit uncomfortable on the days that go by when we haven’t written a word. Here are a few tips to help develop the habit of writing:

1.            Do it daily at the same time. Setting an alarm is helpful. Writing at the same time each day ensures that writing has a place in your life. Maybe it’s when you first wake up or the last thing at night. Choose a time that works and write something!

2.            Keep a log. A simple check or dot on the calendar will do. Make a notation of the completion of your writing each day. Kn

3.            Write the goal down. Somewhere you will see it as a reminder works best. Writing down the goal of writing every day and placing it somewhere you’ll see it (bathroom mirror, refrigerator, etc.). will allow you to face your goal multiple times in a day and internalize it. Your internalization will then lead to actualization.

4.            Set a specific goal. Think about what you want to accomplish through writing each day. Make it a specific goal. Some examples include:

a.       Writing nonstop and uninterrupted for a designated amount of time each day (increasing the increments over time, particularly if you’re experiencing difficulty staying focused).

b.       Competing a certain amount of information (i.e. one paragraph, one page, an entire chapter)

c.       Writing every day for a specific amount of days.

5.            Reward yourself.  As you reach milestones, reward yourself. Take the time to acknowledge your accomplishment. I do not recommend celebrating consistency by taking a day off from writing, especially if consistency has been the enemy of your writing habit.

6.            Be accountable. Find an accountability partner to share your goals with. Allow them to hold you responsible for incomplete progress and to celebrate your advancement.

7.            Choose your way. Write in a way that is most effective for you. Some people write in bed, others choose outdoor destinations. Some people draft in longhand while others approach their efforts on a computer. Find that way of writing that works for you and do it!

As you develop the habit of writing, remember your way may be different from other ways, and that is okay. If it works, write it out. If it doesn’t, write anyway.

5 Reasons to Start Writing

Sometimes you want to write, but getting started proves more difficult than you anticipated. One of the ways that I overcome the stagnation is to remind myself of the reasons why I should start writing right then and there. Five reasons to start writing include:

1.       Writing makes you a better writer. Becoming a better writer comes through practice. Choosing to write a few sentences or numerous pages regularly strengthens your writing ability.

2.       Writing helps you remember. Let’s face it, we forget things. Writing allows you to save important memories and recall lost ones.

3.       Writing lets you tell your story. I believe that if you don’t tell your own story, someone else will. Whether for personal healing or to entertain and ignite the imagination of others, Writing allows you to do that.

4.       Writing offers physical and emotional health benefits. Studies show that expressive writing impacts stress levels and improves mood. Writing to process traumatic and emotional events also leads to fewer physical illnesses.

5.       Writing builds your vocabulary. With stronger vocabularies, our communication is sharpened Having a broader vocabulary can also keep your audience interested in your message with appropriate word choice.

There are numerous reasons to start writing. Some are rooted in your ability to get better at your craft such as becoming a better writer and strengthening your vocabulary. Other reasons to write, like helping remember things and telling our stories, are deeply connected to being better versions of ourselves.

The Power of Brain Dumping

When you were learning to write, your teachers probably shared information on how to brainstorm. I know, because I used them when I was a teacher. I had my students draw a cloud in the middle of the paper for the topic and lightning bolts coming from the cloud for possible main ideas. The raindrops represented the additional subtopics and details. Clever right? I thought so too. 😊 But here’s the thing sometimes my students would get so caught up in drawing perfection that they’d miss the mark on their brainstorming. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a great graphic organizer as a writing tool. However, I have found much more freedom and flexibility in “brain dumping”. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Brain dumping is just that, dumping everything that is in your mind onto paper. It doesn’t have to be organized in a specific way. It doesn’t even have to make sense. The only rules – 1) dump it all, and 2) don’t stop until you feel empty (or until the timer goes off)! After you’ve dumped all of your ideas around a topic, you can begin to look for themes and connection points. Use the recurring themes and related content to craft your writing. Don’t trash the unused ideas. They may be fruitful in other efforts.

In short, brain dumping is powerful because:

1)      It is not just for writing. Brain dumping can be used to bring clarity in many areas of life (career, decision making, event planning, etc.).

2)      1 brain dump = many options. Brain dumping often yields inspiration for new efforts and next endeavors.

How have you embraced the power of brain dumping?