January 24, 2011

The Common Trait of Published Writers

The past year has been full of great news for a few on my online novelist friends. Keli Gwyn got an agent and then sold this past week! Jody Hedlund had sold and had her first book release this past fall. Katie Ganshert got an agent and she has exciting news today on her blog! These wonderful ladies are very talented, and I've discovered they all share a similar trait.

SELF-DISCIPLINE

Keli is an extremely organized person who can stay on top of two blogs, writing, editing, critiquing, reviewing, and encouraging other writers in their quest for publication. Katie works a full time job as a teacher, has a young toddler to chase after, and yet gets up at 4 a.m. every morning to write her stories. Talk about discipline! And Jody...well, Jody is a mother of five children, whom she home schools. She juggles teaching, an incredible blog, and keeping a home for her family. I've also noticed that these young ladies are slender--another testament to their self-control.

Writing is hard work. It takes super-human effort to not only write a book, but edit it and edit it again...and again. It takes discipline, determination, and perseverance.

This doesn't bode well for me.

I am not a disciplined person. I can be focused, but it is on one thing at a time. I may focus on my blog. I may focus on critiquing. I may focus on Facebook. I may focus on keeping the house straight...well, not really for any length of time. I can focus-but to the exclusion of all else. And when I think something is beyond my ability, then I procrastinate and avoid that something like it was the plague.

And therein lies the problem. I think editing my book is beyond my capability. But I'll never be a writer if I can't edit. I know...just do it, you say. I know, I know. You are right. I should. And I am trying, in that I joined a large crit group. It is just slow going, and having to crit other's work while working on mine (and working full time) is overwhelming.

So I've begun praying 2 Timothy 1:7.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
God's Spirit works inside of us, giving up power. Giving us love. Giving us self-discipline! Yes! There is hope. There is encouragement in those words for those of us who are not naturally wired that way. We can overcome. We can live in that power, that love, that self-discipline. 


Are you one of those lucky people who are naturally blessed with the propensity toward self-discipline or do you find yourself lacking in that area?


16 comments:

  1. Thanks for your kind words, Sherrinda. It's nice to know I serve as a good example, although if you were to take a look at my office right now, I'm not so sure you'd use the word organized to describe me. LOL! I fell behind on things last week, and I have to keep the cats out for fear they'll tip over a stack and be buried alive.

    Joking aside, I do believe discipline is a valuable trait, and I've long admired Jody and Katie for theirs. Talk about amazing women. I wanna be more like them when I grow up. =)

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  2. I don't know if I am naturally blessed with self-discipline or just REAL desperate to get where I want to go. I think being desperate for what you want helps a great deal. I can do amazing things when I am hungry for them.

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  3. I'm with Tabitha. I just want it so bad, I'm willing to give up a lot to get there.

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  4. Procrastination comes naturally to me! Not. Good. But like you said, this does not make the task impossible, just hard work.

    I'll be praying for us both:)

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  5. Wow, Sherrinda, thanks for the encouraging words!

    I hear you with the critiquing dilemma. Before I found my two critique partners, I was in a group and it was very very time consuming. I had too much to critique and it was taking away from my writing/editing time. When I found two partners...that made life so much better. Now we only exchange books once we finish them and we know each other quite well, so there's a level of intimacy that helps us be honest and to-the-point.

    Also....sometimes it's hard to getting feedback from so many people. One person might say this, while another says something different and it all gets so confusing.

    Do you think you might benefit more from a partnership instead of a group?

    Thanks AGAIN for your encouragement! Trust me, a lot of the times I don't FEEL disciplined. Like this weekend. Oh wow. I wasn't this weekend.

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  6. Oh, I have the focus thing down...you were totally describing me, right? LOL Yeah, I've got to get the self-discipline thing tweaked and working regularly!

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  7. Seems that some people are just naturally self-disciplined. What does that mean for the rest of us? Practice. We have to practice a little bit each and every day. We need to carve out time just for this. That can be overwhelming when there are so many other things that need our attention (kids, work, elders, home)Start with a small block 15 or 30 min. Same time each day. After a while, this becomes a habit and then you're self-discipline.
    (-;

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  8. I admire those ladies too! I can't imagine getting up at 4am every morning...I'm proud of myself when I get up at 6:30, LOL.

    I love that verse in 2 Timothy and for some reason, I've always glossed over the word "self-discipline". Thanks for pointing it out!

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  9. Recognizing a problem is half way to solving it... at least, I keep telling myself that. I, too, am in a large writing group and we spend so much time preparing 500-word exercises to share and critique that some weeks I despair of having adequate time to work on my novels. My solution has been to skip meetings altogether. :(

    I'm not really self-disciplined, but I'm very organized (and yes, I think there's a big difference). When it comes to revisions and editing I look at the task in smaller chunks rather than being overwhelmed by the whole thing. Setting the goal of editing one chapter a day, or revising one a week, seems doable, when tackling thirty-five or more at once does not.

    Just remember: you wrote that novel, and you *can* (will) edit it.

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  10. I agree with you Sherrinda. But itsn't it encouraging to know that no matter WHAT else you have going on, like the three ladies who are going to be PUBLISHED (woo-hoo!!!! :D) all have so much on their plate and STILL make it work?? Gives the rest of us hope, wouldn't you say? It does me. :)

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  11. Hi Sherrinda! I appreciate your kind words, especially when I'm so tired tonight I could just crash and die. :-)

    Here's a thought for you. What are you editing and why? If it's your first (or even second) book, I'm of the philosophy that you don't need to edit it--at least now. Too much over-analyzing, too much nit-picking, too much rehashing of the same story can drive the life and desire out of any writer. I honestly can't imagine going back to my first couple of books and trying to edit them. If I had, I think I would have stalled, it would have zapped the joy out of writing, and I wouldn't be where I'm at by a long shot.

    Maybe it's time to put those babies to rest and move on. (BTW, I thought you were!)Maybe it's time to put all that you've learned into practice in another story that you can really love. When there's little joy in the writing process, it's much harder to be self-disciplined.

    Maybe you're trying TOO much editing too soon in your writing career? Not sure. But maybe you'll find more drive if you find the joy again?

    Ok. So that's my two cents. Just what you wanted, huh? ;-)

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  12. Ahhh, Sherrinda. You could be my twin. There are certain things that I need to be focused on (like my teaching job), but all too often focus is just another word for procrastination. I do think the procrastination stems from self doubt. I can't fail at what I haven't done.

    These ladies have inspired me though. I'm going to fight those self-doubt demons and get back to work.

    Thanks for such an honest blog.

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  13. Oh ladies, I am so blessed by your comments. Thank you for sharing your strengths and your weaknesses. You all inspire me and I am so thankful for you all.

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  14. Self-discipline!
    I'm pretty sure that fruit isn't quite ripe on my Fruit of the Spirit Tree.
    Blah.
    But...writing is a really good teacher toward self-discipline - or at least it has been for me.
    Ideas and passion are two of my strengths.
    For me, I need the stick-to-itness, but I also have to find joy in the work. That's why I take natural breaks from my novels to work on another, and then come back to it. Works well with my overactive mind too :-)

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  15. You are so right. Those three lovely ladies have incredible self-discipline. Self-editing is such a difficult task. I'm becoming a big fan of having a couple of critique partners that you trust with your writing and your feelings. We'll get there, Sherrinda! We both can rest in hope.

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  16. Self-discipline doesn't come so easy for me either. It's a challenging task having to force myself to do something that I do not want to do, which is annoying considering procrastination should not be a characteristic in writers. Ugh! It's good to know that I'm not the only one struggling in this area, though.

    I am also currently editing my manuscript. The writing part is fine, I don't need forced self-discipline for that part... but it's the editing part that's the most challenging.

    Thanks for sharing 2 Timothy 1:7! I love that scripture. =)

    Tessa

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